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RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN PREMIERS HOLD TALKS. Prime Minister Kasyanov met in Moscow on 16 August with Ukraine's Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh to discuss a number of bilateral issues, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Kasyanov reportedly asked Kinakh to prepare Ukraine's conditions for joining the Eurasian Economic Commonwealth. He also presented Kinakh with Russia's vision for a joint natural-gas consortium that eventually will include Germany as well (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2002), AP reported. The two prime ministers expressed hope that the concept can be finalized in time for a Ukrainian-Russian summit scheduled for 7 October in Moldova on the sidelines of the CIS summit. Kasyanov also urged Kinakh to adopt an agreement on Soviet-era property abroad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 2002). According to AP, Kasyanov said that Ukrainian ratification of the so-called "zero option" agreement is "fundamental" for Russia. RC
OUR UKRAINE MAY JOIN OPPOSITION IF UNABLE TO FORM COALITION CABINET. Yuriy Kostenko, the leader of the Ukrainian Popular Rukh and first deputy head of the Our Ukraine parliamentary caucus, has said Our Ukraine may join the opposition if it fails in its efforts to create a parliamentary majority and a coalition government, UNIAN reported on 16 August. "This will mean that Our Ukraine, as an opposition force, will demand the dismissal of the current government and early presidential elections, and will call for citizens' support for protest actions against the authorities," Kostenko added. "All efforts by Our Ukraine to secure economic growth until the presidential elections [in 2004] have run against the counteraction of oligarchic clans that influence the position of the head of state," Kostenko noted, adding that these words primarily refer to activists of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine-united, who, he stressed, "are trying to create a so-called 'majority' without Our Ukraine." JM
FIRE BREAKS OUT IN UKRAINE'S MOST DANGEROUS MINE. Four miners of the notorious Zasyadko coal mine have been hospitalized following a fire that broke out at a depth of some 530 meters in the morning of 19 August, UNIAN and Interfax reported. The fire was reportedly extinguished, while more than 1,200 miners who were in the mine when the accident occurred were safely evacuated. Last month, a methane-gas blast killed 20 miners in the Zasyadko mine. Two other tragic blasts in the same mine killed 50 miners in May 1999 and 55 in August 2001. JM
...DENIES NATO ADMISSION IS PEGGED TO SETTLEMENT OF BORDER DISPUTE WITH UKRAINE. Geoana also said in Brasov that NATO is not pressuring Romania to settle its Black Sea border demarcation dispute with Ukraine, Mediafax reported. Geoana said NATO is "imposing no conditions" on Romania for NATO membership, but that it would be "a good thing" if the dispute could be settled ahead of the alliance's summit in Prague in November. MS
OSCE FAILS TO ORGANIZE NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN MOLDOVA, TRANSDNIESTER OFFICIALS. Matti Sidoroff, who is the spokesman of the OSCE's mission in Chisinau, said on 16 August that an OSCE-planned meeting between Chisinau and Tiraspol negotiators in Chisinau did not take place for "technical reasons," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Tiraspol rejected the invitation on the grounds that it was not signed by OSCE mission chief David Schwartz and because its own chief negotiator, "Foreign Minister" Valerii Litskay, was on vacation. Sidoroff also announced that the delegation heads of the three entities mediating the talks -- the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine -- will meet in Moscow by the end of the month to coordinate future moves. Last week, Tiraspol refused to attend a meeting in Chisinau on 15 August called by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin on the grounds that Voronin is not entitled to call such a meeting, as such an action is exclusively the prerogative of the mediators. MS