IMF READY TO RESUME COOPERATION WITH UKRAINE? The IMF on 6 September welcomed Ukraine's repayment of $100 million ahead of schedule (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 2000) and its agreement to tighten controls on future borrowing from the fund, Reuters reported. However, IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer noted that the fund sees Ukraine's progress on reform as insufficient and hopes Kyiv will take more steps to ensure continued IMF lending to Ukraine. "These efforts are needed to provide a strengthening of Ukraine's growth prospects and an improvement in standards of living for the Ukrainian population," Fischer said. Meanwhile, quoting "reliable sources," ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September that the IMF Board of Directors decided the previous day to resume its loan program to Ukraine, which was suspended a year ago. JM

UKRAINE'S GREENS WANT MORE FUNDS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. Some 1,000 members of the Green Party picketed the government building in Kyiv on 6 September to demand more funds to upgrade waste storage facilities throughout the country, AP and Interfax reported. Green Party leader Vitaliy Kononov said the state-run Radon storage site near Kyiv received only 2.5 billion hryvni ($460,000) in funding this year, while its needs are nearly five times higher. Environmental Minister Oleksandr Zayets admitted to the protesters that the problem of waste storage is serious but expressed hope that a new waste site being built near the Chornobyl power plant will improve the situation. JM

PRIMAKOV'S DRAFT ACCORD ON TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT PUBLISHED. "Moldavskie Vedomosti" on 6 September published the draft agreement drawn up by Yevgenii Primakov, head of the Russian state commission on settling the Transdniester conflict, to Chisinau and Tiraspol. Infotag described the draft as "a combination of federative and confederative ideas." The document says the sides would create a "common state" in which the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic would have its own constitution and legislative, executive, and judicial bodies as well as its own flag, coat of arms, and anthem. The "common state" would have jurisdiction over foreign policy and border guards. "Internal borders" would be "mutually transparent" and "not subject to customs." One side's army, security forces, and police would not be able to operate on the other's territory without its consent. The draft stipulates that peacekeeping units will include OSCE forces but the bulk of such troops will come from Russia and Ukraine. MS

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." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)


UKRAINE ASKS MICROSOFT FOUNDER, WORLD BANK TO HELP COMPUTERIZE SCHOOLS. Education Minister Ivan Kremen on 31 August said his ministry had appealed to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the World Bank to help Ukraine computerize its schools, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September)

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 the Russian Orthodox Church to grant not autonomy but autocephaly to its branch in Ukraine. 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. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 August)

JOURNALISTS PROTEST COSTLY LIBEL RULINGS. Ukrainian journalists have launched a protest campaign against what they see as media harassment in the form of very high libel settlements, Interfax and AP reported on 5 September. Courts have been flooded by libel claims from officials, private citizens and organizations seeking huge settlements that journalists say are often used as political tools to silence criticism. Journalists are planning to travel in horse-drawn carts across Ukrainian regions and build a "Freedom Town" in front of the parliamentary building in Kyiv within the framework of their protest campaign. The parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech has proposed a bill that would limit libel settlements to 2,550 hryvni ($468). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September)

NEW PLAN FOR STATE SUPPORT TO PRINT MEDIA BEING DEVELOPED. As of 1 January, the Ukrainian government plans to have in effect a new policy for state support to the print media, Vitaly Ablitsov, chairman of the State Committee for Information Policy, announced on 1 September. This plan will be based on a new system of competitive grants, according to Ablitsov. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 2 September)

TIGHTENED CONTROL OVER MEDIA AHEAD? A new registration drive will begin for all print media in Ukraine, the deputy chairman of the State Committee on Information Policy announced on 1 September. In addition, strict new requirements for use of the Ukrainian language will be required of print and broadcast media, Serhei Kvit, the head of the coordination board for media outlets of the State Ministry for Information Policy, announced the same day. Those media outlets found to have violated those stipulations will lose their broadcast licenses. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 4 September)