, who came to office as a reformer but who was unable to move his program through the previous, presumably less hostile legislature. Independent Ukraine has yet to experience a year of economic growth. By the dismal standards of the country, last year’s performance was the best since 1991: gross domestic product fell by only 3.2%. Probably most economic activity is not officially recorded, a sign not so much of thriving entrepreneurship but of stifling regulation, rampant tax evasion, corruption and fraud.

The government is running out of money. Financing the budget deficit is growing more difficult and expensive, as interest rates rise to reflect investor doubts about the ability or (if the Communists take over) the intent of the government to make good on its IOU’s. To sell bonds to foreigners last month, the government had to offer a yield of 15%, about the highest of any sovereign borrower. The International Monetary Fund stopped disbursements on its loans at the beginning of the year.

President Kuchma had been planning to run for re-election in late 1999. He may now wonder whether that uphill battle is worth waging.