RUSSIA'S ROLE IN SUMMIT UNCLEAR. As of mid-morning 16 October Moscow time, exactly who--if anyone--will represent Russia at planned peace talks in Egypt between Israel and Palestine was not clear. The Russian Foreign Ministry had issued a statement on 14 October saying that Russia is "prepared to take part in [a Palestinian-Israeli summit] at the same level as other participants." However, on 16 October Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was still in Moscow preparing to meet with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin with his wife arrived on 15 October in Sochi on the Black Sea for a vacation. The next morning he was meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma there. Ekho Moskvy, which is owned by Vladimir Gusinskii's Media-MOST, had reported on 15 October that according to an unidentified high-ranking source, Putin would attend the meeting in Egypt. JAC

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKER ARRESTED IN GERMANY. Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Obikhod said on 13 October that German authorities have arrested Ukrainian legislator Viktor Zherdytskyy in Hanover in connection with a criminal investigation in Germany involving breach of public trust, AP reported. Obikhod did not give details of Zherdytskyy's German case. Obikhod said Zherdytskyy is under criminal investigation in Ukraine after more than 87 million German marks ($38.4 million) in German government compensation payments disappeared at Gradobank, which he headed before being elected to the parliament. JM

A SUCCESSOR TO THE CIS? Russian President Vladimir Putin along with the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan on 10 October signed an accord in Astana creating a Eurasian Economic Commonwealth that is intended to replace the hitherto dysfunctional Custom Union that existed among these countries. On the one hand, the new alliance is intended to provide a coordinating center in place of the CIS; on the other, it is intended to challenge alternative structures like GUUAM, which groups Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. In the EEC, Russia will have 40 votes on decisions, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan 20 votes each, and Tajikistan only 10.