CHERNOMYRDIN RECOMMENDS TOUGH MEASURES... In an uncharacteristically bold statement, acting Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin called for the Russian state to "switch over to economic dictatorship" starting in January under which enterprises would no longer be able to avoid or delay paying taxes. Among the measures he suggested was the payment of pension arrears totaling 20 billion rubles ($1.2 billion), back wages to public sector employees totaling 7.5 billion rubles, 1.5 billion rubles worth of defense industry wages, and 2 billion rubles for science, health, and education spending through a "controlled" monetary emission. And he included 1 billion rubles the government still owes to the victims of Chornobyl. JAC

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CHIRAC SUPPORTS IMF LOAN TO UKRAINE. French President Jacques Chirac said on 3 September that France fully supports extending a much-awaited IMF loan to Ukraine.
On the second day of his official visit to Kyiv Chirac spoke with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus by telephone and said that the IMF's decision on its credit program to Ukraine is a "question of days." Chirac also promised French investments in Ukraine if Kyiv continues to implement reforms. The two sides signed four agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear safety, energy cooperation, and cooperation between Ukrainian and French law enforcement bodies. JM CURRENCY DEALERS SAY STABILIZATION OF HRYVNYA PROBLEMATIC. The Ukrainian National Bank will find it difficult to stabilize the national currency, Ukrainian News reported on 3 September. According to Ukrainian currency dealers, the depletion of the bank's hardcurrency reserves may force it to cease supporting the hryvnya. "The National Bank currently sells $20-40 million per day. At this rate, its reserves will dry up within one month," Oleksandr Prokopenko from Privatbank said. Dmytro Fedotov from Ukrsibbank said that even the $200-250 million that is expected in the first tranche of the IMF's $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine may not be sufficient to stabilize the hryvnya. In his opinion, only the approval of a $400 million loan by the World Bank this year could help stabilize the country's currency. JM
Chamber of Representatives have appealed to Russian and Belarusian citizens to unite efforts in order to overcome the current crisis, Belapan reported on 3 September. The Belarusian lawmakers propose that both countries' parliaments urgently consider bills on introducing a single Belarusian-Russian citizenship and on direct elections to a joint parliament. The appeal states that the "economic, political, and moral model of building the current Russian society [according to the dictates of] international and regional financialoligarchic groups...has totally collapsed. At the same time, the independent and patriotic policy conducted in Belarus under the leadership of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka convincingly proves [that policy's] viability and efficiency." JM
LUKASHENKA CALLS RUSSIAN CRISIS 'POLITICAL HYSTERIA.' Belarusian President Lukashenka has described the current crisis in Russia as "nothing more than political hysteria," Interfax reported on 3 September. "The situation in Russia is worrying me a great deal. I'm afraid this crash will affect Belarus," the agency quoted him as saying on a tour of collective farms in Mahilyou Oblast. Lukashenka added that he sees no desire in Russia to deal with the crisis. In his opinion, the current developments in Russia show that "election campaigns for the parliament and in effect for the president have started." JM
BELARUS HIT BY 'CREDIT BLOCKADE.' Belarusian Economy Minister Uladzimir Shymau has admitted that Belarus needs considerable foreign investments to integrate its economy into the world economy, Belapan reported on 3 September. Shymau praised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for its "quite pragmatic policy" of continuing financial projects in Belarus. He added that Belarus hopes to "prolong a dialog" with the IMF and the World Bank, which have recalled their permanent representatives from Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April and 28 August 1998). Deputy Economy Minister Valeriy Drozd said Belarus received $60.8 million in foreign credits in 1998, which is "only 18 percent of the sum planned for this year. We are under a credit blockade by international financial organizations," he commented. JM