RUSSIA TO WITHDRAW FROM CIS VISA-FREE REGIME.Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on Ekho Moskvy on 30 August that Russia is preparing to withdraw from the Bishkek agreement on visa-free travel among most CIS countries.He said that Russian officials are preparing documents informing the other countries of Moscow's plans, which would go into effect 90 days after this notification.This declaration will not affect Moscow's arrangements with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, he said, as "these countries were not parties to the Bishkek Agreement."PG

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES CABINET TO SEEK IMF CREDITS. Leonid Kuchma told journalists on 30 August that Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet must prompt the IMF to resume its $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine, Interfax reported. Kuchma said he realizes that the IMF might have suspended its loan program because the former cabinet of Valeriy Pustovoytenko was "nonreformist." "But today the West recognizes [Yushchenko's] cabinet as reformist, so why do they refuse to give credits to [someone with such a good name]?" Kuchma asked. He noted thathe currently does not intend "to make conclusions regarding Yushchenko's government" but promised that they will be not long in coming. "An IMF mission arrives soon, and after a meeting with them I will understand what demands they are making," Kuchma added. JM

UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES ACCUSED OF SEEKING TO OBSTRUCT SINGLE ORTHODOX CHURCH. Metropolitan Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), has criticized the authorities' approach toward the creation of a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Interfax reported on 30 August. "There are declarations but no desire; on the contrary, there is opposition [by the authorities]," Filaret noted. He said President Leonid Kuchma should have asked theRussian Orthodox Church to grant not autonomy but autocephaly to its branch in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 2000). Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Filaret argued, could provide canonical grounds for the unification of the Moscow-subordinated Church with the two other Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. Filaret said the only way to create a single Church under current circumstances is to convene an All-Ukrainian Council of Bishops that would take a decision to that effect. JM

ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN CHIEFS OF STAFF DISCUSS BILATERAL COOPERATION. At a 30 August meeting in the western Romanian city of Oradea, Romanian Chief of Staff Mircea Chelaru and his Hungarian counterpart, Lajos Fodor, announced their intention to set up a Hungarian-Slovak-Ukrainian-Romanian mixed logistics battalion, "Ziua" reported. The idea of such a battalion came from the Hungarian side in the aftermath ofthe environmental disaster caused bythe cyanide spill into the Tisza River last January. Fodor said that the setting up of the battalion depends on political factors in the four countries involved. And in an effort to increase bilateral cooperation, the generals announced that officers from the Hungarian and Romanian armies will spend their vacations together. ZsM