IMF MISSION TO RECOMMEND $2.2 BILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE. An IMF team visiting Kyiv last week announced on 31 July that it will recommend the release of a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine. "We have reached a tentative agreement with Ukrainian authorities on the program of stabilization and restructuring of the economy," AP quoted IMF mission head Mohammed Shadman-Valavi as saying. The three-year program, which Shadman-Valavi described as "very ambitious," aims to reduce the budget deficit to 3.3 percent of GDP this year and to 2 percent in following years. It also provides for an inflation rate of 10 percent this year and 8 percent in 1999-2001. Ukraine may obtain $250 million immediately after the IMF Board of Directors approves the loan in late August and another $600 million by year's end. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS RESCHEDULE PROTEST ACTION FOR SEPTEMBER. A protest action over unpaid wages planned by the Trade Union of Coal Industry Workers has been postponed until September. The union had intended to begin the action on 2 August in Kyiv. It said that the decision to postpone the protest was due to the "unbelievable heat" in Ukraine and to the summer recess, ITAR-TASS reported. Despite recent payments made by the government, total wage arrears in the coal industry exceed $2 billion hryvni ($1 billion). The government paid only 75 percent of last month's wages in the coal mining sector. JM

LUKASHENKA SAYS REUNION OF RUSSIA, UKRAINE, BELARUS 'INEVITABLE.' Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said in answer to questions by readers of "Pravda-5" that that reunification of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus "is inevitable and that no opponent will be able to prevent it," Interfax reported on 31 July. He said such a union will appear "very soon" if "the reunification problem passes from the area of election outbursts into the area of practical daily work." He also expressed the hope that the BelarusianRussian Union Parliamentary Assembly will soon pass laws to establish union citizenship and that the two countries' parliaments will approve that legislation. JM

BULGARIA TO RECEIVE $800 MILLION IMF LOAN. Chief IMF negotiator for Bulgaria, Anne McGuirk, said on 1 August that Bulgaria will receive a $800 million three-year loan, subject to its approval by the IMF board in September, Reuters reported. McGuirk said that overall foreign funding for that period will total $1.6 billion, half of which will come from the IMF. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the other lenders include the World Bank, the EU, and various countries. The amount is roughly equivalent to Bulgaria's foreign debt obligations for the same period, according to Reuters. In other news, Kostov on 31 July said that some $30 million will be invested in the country's defense industry by the end of 2001 and that the government's program provides for joint military production with Russia, China, and Ukraine. MS