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News Briefs

Federal Workers Get Nervous At Prospect of Cutbacks

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Anxiety among federal workers about their futures is deepening, new survey data show, as President Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress head for a showdown over the budget.

Federal agencies are preparing for a temporary shutdown on Oct. 1 if the president and Congress have not agreed on spending bills for the new fiscal year. The administration also has asked agencies to draw up contingency plans for laying off employees and canceling contracts this fall if the two sides cannot reach a settlement promptly.

For the longer haul, four of every 10 federal employees fear losing their jobs because of budget reductions, according to a poll earlier this month by the Greater Washington Consumer Survey. Four out of five believe their agency will be hit by cutbacks.

In an estimate by Mahlon R. Straszheim, chairman of the University of Maryland's economics department, current and future cuts in federal employment could total 500,000 nationally over the next few years.

Under one of many scenarios, the White House and Congress could keep the government running with a "continuing resolution" while continuing to negotiate, but at lower spending levels that could force layoffs and delay government contracts.

Stable Ukraine Checks Russian Power

The Washington Post
KIEV, Ukraine

The most important thing about Ukraine's fourth independence day may have been that it took place at all. In 1991, when the republic decisively doomed the crumbling Soviet Union by declaring independence, many Western analysts predicted that Ukraine would also split up.

But Ukraine celebrated its anniversary last Thursday as one of the most stable of the former Soviet states. Its consolidation of statehood is widely described by Western analysts and governments as a new pillar of stability for Eastern Europe. And Ukraine's independence, after more than 300 years of rule from Moscow, brings an important reduction in Russia's ability to exert power in Europe.

While independent Ukraine is calm, it is not happy. Ukrainians' poverty has steadily deepened as the country struggled to fashion a workable market economy and overcome its dependence on Russia for key goods and energy supplies. Meanwhile, ethnic Ukrainians and Russians squabble over cultural and linguistic issues. And there is no consensus here over what kind of state Ukraine should become.

But four years after the August coup attempt that began the Soviet Union's final breakup, most of the 15 former Soviet republics face greater troubles. Six of them - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Tajikistan - are entangled in civil wars. Authoritarian governments in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have crushed public dissent, forcing opponents into prison or exile.