MOODY'S LOWERS UKRAINE'S DOMESTIC LIABILITIES RATING. The international rating agency Moody's has lowered the rating of the Ukrainian government's domestic currency bonds from B3 to Ca, Interfax and AP reported on 22 February. According to Moody's, the Ca rating reflects "obligations which are speculative in a high degree...and are often in default." Moody's added that the terms offered by the Ukrainian government last fall for the "voluntary" exchange of maturing T-bills were a "technical default." Moody's also warned that the hryvnya is under threat of rapid devaluation this year. Meanwhile, experts predict that given the current lack of foreign exchange liquidity, Ukraine faces a default on its foreign debt. JM

KUCHMA INSTRUCTS GOVERNMENT TO RETURN CHURCH PROPERTY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has given the cabinet one year to return former Church property to religious organizations in Ukraine, Interfax reported on 23 February. Kuchma urged the State Property Fund to prohibit the privatization of Church property and oblige local authorities to provide land on which new Churches as well as Muslim and Jewish cemeteries can be built. He also ordered the State Customs Committee to simplify procedures for delivering humanitarian aid to religious organizations. JM

UKRAINIAN JEWS SPLIT TO FORM NEW CONFEDERATION. Three influential Jewish organizations in Ukraine's 500,000- strong Jewish community have announced their intent to quit the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress and set up a Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, AP reported on 23 February. The breakaway groups accuse the congress of "inactivity" and pledge to unite Ukraine's more than 300 Jewish organizations and groups within the new confederation. Ukrainian Television reported on 23 February that representatives of all Jewish organizations in Ukraine are to meet in April and "determine their participation in the newly-created confederation." JM