RUSSIA, UKRAINE TO TAKE JOINT ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES. Informal meetings between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma concluded on 19 September with the signing of a communique. The presidents agreed to form an anti-crisis task force that would work out joint economic measures to ease the economic crisis squeezing both countries. They also discussed ways of reforming the CIS to transform it into a more effective vehicle for regional and international cooperation. According to ITAR-TASS, Kuchma pledged that part of Ukraine's debt for Russian natural gas will be settled with goods. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko also met with his Russian counterpart, Primakov. They agreed that priority sectors for RussianUkrainian cooperation are the aero-space industry, shipbuilding, machine-building, and military-technical cooperation. JAC

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ASKS KUCHMA TO ABOLISH BUDGET CUTS. The Ukrainian Supreme Council on 18 September voted by 259 to 28 in favor of a non-binding resolution asking President Leonid Kuchma to annul a decree that introduced spending cuts in the 1998 budget, AP reported. Kuchma's decree was issued in August to meet IMF requirements for granting a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine. It slashed budget expenditures by 20 percent, bringing the budget deficit down from 3.3 to 2.5 percent of GDP. If Kuchma does not rescind the decree, the parliament threatens to consider whether he exceeded his presidential powers. The parliamentary resolution testifies to the recent increase in tensions between the legislature and the government. Earlier last week, the Supreme Council overrode Kuchma's veto on its law banning an increase in payments for public utilities and transportation. JM