UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANKER CONFIDENT ABOUT NATIONAL CURRENCY. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said on 28 August that "the devaluation of the hryvnya is impossible," ITAR-TASS reported. "There are no reasons for a sharp devaluation of the hryvnya and its rate is under control," AP quoted him as saying. The hryvnya has been falling steadily since Russia devalued the ruble two weeks ago. On 28 August the hryvnya sank to 2.25 to $1, reaching the upper limit of the formerly set exchange corridor. Yushchenko added that the confusion in Ukraine's financial market was bound to stop given the IMF's plans to issue a $2.2 billion loan to the country. IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus said in Washington on 28 August that he will call a meeting of the IMF Executive Board "on short notice" to consider the loan. JM

UKRAINE PROTESTS LUZHKOV'S 'INTRUSION' INTO INTERNAL AFFAIRS. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Yurii Dubinin, to protest statements made by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 26 August in Sevastopol, AP reported. Luzhkov, speaking at the opening of a Russian-language school, accused Ukrainian authorities of the forced Ukrainization of the city and its educational system and of attempts to force the Ukrainian language on ethnic Russian residents. According to the agency, Luzhkov also told Russian servicemen in Sevastopol to continue to hope that the city will return to Russia. "Some statements by Yurii Luzhkov can be assessed as an intrusion into Ukraine's internal affairs and disrespect for its sovereignty," the ministry said in a statement. JM

LUKASHENKA PROMOTES SLAVIC UNITY AS CURE FOR RUSSIAN ILLS... Belarus and Ukraine can help Russia overcome its crisis if the three former Soviet republics draw closer together, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists on 28 August, at the end of his threeday visit to Crimea. "Bringing the three Slavic countries closer will be a strong factor in stabilizing the situation not only in Russia, but in Belarus and Ukraine," Interfax quoted him as saying. Lukashenka said that the financial collapse in Russia was predictable and that the Russian government "should have warned Ukraine and Belarus" of it. In his opinion, the current situation pushes the three presidents to make "steps toward each other. The three of us will be to blame if we fail to use this unique situation," he said. JM