IMF APPROVES RELEASE OF $184 MILLION TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The IMF on 7 September approved the release of an $184 million tranche to Ukraine after the fund completed its third review of the country's economic policy under a three-year $2.6 billion loan program, dpa reported. IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer commented that the IMF Board of Directors noted that so far in 1999 macroeconomic developments have exceeded expectations and that fiscal adjustment has been encouraging. Meanwhile, National Bank head Viktor Yushchenko said Ukraine will be able to pay off its mounting foreign debts in 2000 provided the parliament approves a deficit-free budget and the IMF continues its financial aid. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER BLASTS KUCHMA. Opening the parliament's fall session on 7 September, speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko accused President Leonid Kuchma of using improper measures against his rivals ahead of the 31 October presidential ballot. "The government has grown into the incumbent's campaign headquarters," Tkachenko said, adding that regional authorities were told to work for Kuchma's reelection. The media, he continued, are used by the government to spread "false information" about other candidates. During its current session, the parliament intends to consider 490 draft laws, including the 2000 draft budget as well as budget and tax codes. Since 13 presidential candidates are parliamentary deputies, it is widely expected that the session will be turbulent. JM

BULGARIA RESPONDS TO BLOCKING OF ROMANIAN DANUBE. Dimiter Stanchev, executive director of the Bulgarian River Shipping Corporation, said on 7 September in the River Danube port of Russe that Serbia's obstruction of traffic on the river must be punished by "sanctions that match their steps." Stanchev said the Romanian protests launched one day earlier are "logical" but "there are other ways to bring international pressure" on Serbia. He said that if Romanian claims that the Serbian authorities are letting only Russian and Ukrainian ships navigate a canal around Novi Sad are substantiated, Bulgarian ports should introduce "licensing requirements" for Serbian vessels, BTA reported. MS