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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS GOVERNMENT, APPOINTS NEW PREMIER... President Leonid Kuchma on 16 November fired Premier Anatoliy Kinakh's cabinet and appointed 52-year-old Donetsk Governor Viktor Yanukovych as prime minister, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. "The government of Anatoliy Kinakh will continue in a caretaker role until a new government is appointed," Hromnytska told Reuters. Yanukovych must be approved for the post by the Verkhovna Rada, whose next session begins on 19 November. JM
...AND REPORTEDLY PLANS TO ATTEND NATO SUMMIT DESPITE PERSONAL SNUB. National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk told Interfax on 16 November that President Kuchma will attend the NATO summit in Prague despite NATO's decision to hold a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission at the foreign ministers' level. Marchuk said Kuchma will attend a session of NATO's 46-member Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), while Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko will represent Ukraine in bilateral talks with the alliance. Kuchma spokeswoman Hromnytska declined to comment on the report, while press officials at the National Security and Defense Council said they can neither confirm nor deny the news, Reuters reported. NATO warned that Kuchma will not be welcome at the summit after Washington said it believes the Ukrainian premier approved the sale of a Kolchuga early-warning radar system to Iraq. "President Kuchma did not receive a personal invitation to come to the EAPC summit in Prague, but Ukraine, like any other EAPC country, has an invitation to come to Prague and is expected to be in Prague," NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur told RFE/RL on 18 November. JM
FOUR-COUNTRY BATTALION AGREEMENT SIGNED IN BUDAPEST. The chiefs of staff of Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine on 15 November signed an agreement in Budapest on the establishment of an international military battalion dubbed Tisa, "whose task will be to ensure cooperation in tackling natural disasters," Czech news agency CTK reported. Hungarian Defense Ministry officials told CTK the document was signed by Hungarian Chief of Staff General Lajos Fodor and his counterparts Milan Cerovsky of Slovakia, Mihail Popescu of Romania, and Oleksandr Zatynayko of Ukraine. The agreement provides for the creation of a battalion of 800 troops that could be deployed at the request of any of the four countries involved in case of a natural disaster in the Tisa River basin. Each of the countries will provide 200 soldiers, including 100 military engineers, to the unit. When deployed, the unit will be under host-country command. MSZ