UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REPORTED TO HAVE INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR REFORM. Ukrainian presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said President Leonid Kuchma's reform program received support from world political and financial leaders during his recent visits to Moscow, Brussels, Paris, and Washington, Interfax reported on 9 December. Martynenko added that "it is possible today to speak about the reality of Ukraine's integration into the European community and about the fact that Russia and the U.S. are strategic partners of our country." According to Martynenko, Ukraine may expect a $370 million loan from the World Bank in 2000. The loan was agreed at a meeting between Kuchma and World Bank President James Wolfenson in Washington earlier this week. JM

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK REFUSES TO PREVENT FALL OF HRYVNYA. Traders at the interbank exchange , were selling hryvnya at 5.28-5.55 to $1 on 9 December, while street traders offered an exchange rate of 5.75 hryvni to $1, AP reported. The National Bank, however, said it does not plan to intervene and expects the hryvnya to strengthen soon. A bank official quoted by the agency said the factors forcing the hryvnya's decline are concerns over the parliament's possible failure to adopt a budget and over Ukraine's debts. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS WANT RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION EXPANDED. Communist leader Petro Symonenko told Interfax on 9 December that the communist parliamentary caucus is going to make the country's leadership "consider the possibility" of Ukraine's joining the Russia-Belarus union treaty. "Under circumstances of the financial and political expansion of cultures alien to us...this union is a positive phenomenon also for Ukraine," Symonenko noted. JM