KREMLIN PREPARING FOR YELTSIN'S DEPARTURE? "KommersantDaily" on 27 August argued that the presidential staff no longer pretends that "everything is fine." They expect acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin "not only to overcome the financial crisis but also to secure guarantees from the [State] Duma if President [Boris Yeltsin] wants to resign." A "high-ranking" source told the newspaper that the Kremlin is seeking a special law that would provide for the president's financial and physical well-being in retirement. The newspaper adds that now "Yeltsin will share any powers with Chernomyrdin." In March, one of the reasons Yeltsin reportedly dismissed Chernomyrdin was because he conducted talks with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma as an equal. However, on 26 August, Chernomyrdin flew to Crimea with Yeltsin's full approval to meet with the Belarusian and Ukrainian heads of state. JAC

PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS UKRAINE NOT THREATENED BY RUSSIAN CRISIS... Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko told journalists on 27 August in Kyiv that he does not believe the country is facing a financial crisis of the same dimensions as Russia, dpa reported. "We will bolster the hryvnya and take further steps toward reform," the agency quoted him as saying. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko added that he does not see any reasons for a "deep devaluation" of the hryvnya. But he admitted that changing the 1998 exchange corridor of 1.8-2.25 hryvni to $1 remains an option, Interfax reported. JM

... SAYS IMF HAS NOT POSTPONED LOAN... Pustovoytenko said the IMF has not postponed issuing a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. He said that IMF Managing-Director Michel Camdessus promised at a 26 August meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and Russian acting Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin that Ukraine will obtain its loan as planned. JM

...SAYS RUSSIA, UKRAINE SHOULD MUTUALLY CANCEL DEBTS. Pustovoytenko also said the Ukrainian government wants Ukraine's debt to Gazprom and Russia's debts to Ukrainian plants to be canceled, Interfax reported on 27 August. He added that this problem was a major item on the agenda of his talks with Chernomyrdin on 26 August. "We will insist on this arrangement," the agency quoted Pustovoytenko as saying. In early July, Ukraine owed Russia $610 million for gas supplies. JM