INTERNATIONAL REACTION CALMS. Political leaders, bankers, and investors in most countries suggest that Russia's economic difficulties will not have a serious immediate impact on their economies, Russian and international news agencies reported on 18 August With the exception of Belarus which is tightly linked to Russia and Ukraine (where officials are concerned about the fall of the hryvnya), leaders in the other former Soviet republics, the Baltic States, and Eastern European states indicated that they do not expect much damage. And in news that will be welcome to many Russian investors, the Cypriot Central Bank told ITARTASS on 18 August that the new Russian currency corridor will not have a "serious negative effect" on the activities of Russian off-shore companies there. PG

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATE TO STABILIZE HRYVNYA. The Ukrainian National Bank has raised its Lombard rate to 92 percent annually from 82 percent, AP reported on 18 August. The step follows financial turmoil in Russia and aims at maintaining the stability of the national currency, the hryvnya. "It is rather a psychological form of reaction to the market's financial situation," National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko commented. At the same time, the bank left the discount rate unchanged at 82 percent from early July. Ukrainian financial experts are concerned that the dramatic plunge of the Russian ruble may also undermine the hryvnya, which fell significantly on 17 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1998). JM

...WHILE HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS ON SLOVAK TV HALTED. The Bratislava Hungarian-language daily "Uj Szo" reported on 18 August that Hungarian-language programming on Slovak state television has been halted, effective immediately. An editor of the program said that management had explained the move by charging that the one-hour weekly program did not meet the expectation that half of its coverage be devoted to the Slovak government and the parliament. Management announced that the broadcast will be replaced by an "allnationality program in which Croats, Gypsies, Poles, Serbs, Ukrainians, and Hungarians will be allotted 10 minutes each," Hungarian media reported. MS