IMF MISSION LEAVES KYIV WITHOUT RECOMMENDING LOAN RESUMPTION. An IMF mission wrapped up its visit to Kyiv on 26 January without recommending the resumption of a $2.2 billion loan program, AP and Interfax reported. "The mission has not made any final conclusion, but I can say that we have laid the foundations for a positive conclusion," President Leonid Kuchma's aide Valeriy Lytvytskyy commented. Lytvytskyy added that the IMF mission noted positive developments in Ukraine, including the timely adoption of the 1999 budget, improved tax collection, a stable exchange rate for the hryvnya, and macroeconomic stability. At the same time, the mission was dissatisfied with the pace of structural and administrative reforms as well as of reforms in the energy and agricultural sectors. Lytvytskyy said the IMF-Ukraine consultations "may continue after the mission's return or after a government delegation's brief visit to the IMF headquarters." JM

LUHANSK MINERS CONTINUE PROTEST OVER BACK WAGES. Seventy-five miners at three mines in Luhansk Oblast are continuing underground strikes over unpaid wages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 1999), while four mines have halted operations, Ukrainian Television reported on 26 January. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko instructed the Coal Mining Ministry to pay the mines by the end of January for all coal mined last month. Coal Mining Minister Serhiy Tulub said the payment will amount to 200 million hryvni ($58 million) and is "doable." The government owes more than $2 billion hryvni to the mining sector. Also on 26 January, workers at the Ukrnafta and Ukrhazprom companies held "warning strikes for the first time ever in Ukraine," according to Ukrainian Television. The report did not specify the reason for those protests. JM

MOLDOVAN, TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADERS MEET IN TIRASPOL. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov met in Tiraspol on 26 January to discuss economic and political issues, Infotag reported. Talks focused, among other things, on a draft law defining Transdniester's "special status." Lucinschi said there is a need to "better clarify" the term "common state," which was mentioned in the Moscow Memorandum signed last year. He said the two sides interpret the term differently. Lucinschi also noted that "a necessity certainly exists" for a large-scale meeting on the Transdniestrian issue that would also be attended by Ukrainian and Russian officials. PB.