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PUTIN NAMES CHERNOMYRDIN AMBASSADOR TO KYIV. President Vladimir Putin on 10 May announced that he has appointed former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to be the Russian ambassador in Ukraine, Russian and Western agencies reported. In making the appointment, Putin said that "the time has come to approach seriously the development of relations with one of our basic partners -- Ukraine, and for this we must create the necessary preconditions, including in personnel." Russian commentators and political figures generally praised the move and suggested that the naming of this political "heavyweight" will help resolve problems in bilateral ties between the two countries (see Part II for Ukrainian commentary). PG
IS GORBACHEV A FUTURE APPOINTEE? Citing "an informed source," Interfax reported on 10 May that the appointment of Chernomyrdin as ambassador to Ukraine reflects the Kremlin's desire to make use of former officials who have immense experience and who have "not lost their political weight and personal connections." PG
MOSCOW TO STEP UP ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON KYIV FOLLOWING CHERNOMYRDIN'S APPOINTMENT? "This is an attempt to establish an even stronger diktat of the Russian economy over the Ukrainian one," Rukh leader Yuriy Kostenko commented on 10 May on Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement to appoint former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as Moscow's ambassador to Kyiv. "Chernomyrdin's appointment [means] that Ukraine has lost some part of its sovereignty," Kyiv-based political scientist Volodymyr Polokhalo said. According to political analyst Mykola Tomenko, Chernomyrdin supports "economic, not political, pragmatism" in Russian-Ukrainian relations and will promote Russian economic interests in Ukraine "more vigorously." Ousted Premier Viktor Yushchenko said Chernomyrdin's appointment is Moscow's "wonderful and reasonable step," adding that the latter's mission in Kyiv will boost economic cooperation between both countries. JM