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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

PUTIN, KUCHMA EXTEND ENERGY COOPERATION AND PERSONAL FRIENDSHIP... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma arrived in Moscow on 8 August for talks with President Vladimir Putin about implementing the Russian-German-Ukrainian agreement on forming a consortium for transporting Russian natural gas to Europe (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2002), Russian and Western news agencies reported. State-run ORT television and the daily "Izvestiya" both stressed Kuchma's policy of closer ties with Russia and noted in this context that Kuchma will also discuss the participation of Russian capital in the privatization of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, as well as the coordination of the two countries' economic polices in order to accede to the World Trade Organization. Russian media also mentioned Kuchma's desire to make Ukraine a full member of the Eurasian Economic Commonwealth (EEC), the trade alliance created by Moscow, and the fact that Kuchma arrived in Moscow with his wife, Lyudmila, on the eve of his 64th birthday, which he will celebrate with Putin. VY

IMF REFUSES LOAN TRANCHE TO UKRAINE. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has refused to disburse the last of a $2.2 billion loan program that expires on 3 September 2002, UNIAN reported on 7 August, quoting an official IMF statement. The IMF said Ukraine has failed to fulfill a number of IMF conditions to qualify for the tranche. In particular, the government has failed to reduce the number of tax breaks and the volume of VAT-refund debts. Kyiv has thus far received some $1.5 billion of the planned $2.2 billion. Ukraine expected to receive $550 million this year but negotiations with the IMF brought no result. Meanwhile, the "Financial Times" reported on 8 August that the Ukrainian government has persuaded the National Bank to issue an additional $500 million. Deputy Premier Vasil Rohovyy said the money will be issued to commercial banks to fund investment projects, but analysts claim most of the money will be funneled back to government coffers to patch up a growing revenue shortfall. JM

UKRAINIAN COURT REDUCES SENTENCES FOR COMPOSER'S DEATH. The Lviv Oblast Appeals Court on 7 August reduced the prison terms of two men convicted of beating to death popular composer Ihor Bilozir in Lviv in May 2000, which subsequently fuelled Russian-Ukrainian tensions in the city, UNIAN reported. The court cut the sentences of Dmytro Voronov and Yury Kalinin to 10 and eight years in prison, respectively. The Lviv Oblast Court had sentenced the two men to 15 and 12 years for premeditated murder but the Supreme Court, following an appeal, sent the case for review. JM