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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SETS NEW MINIMUM WAGE. The Verkhovna Rada voted 237-46 to approve a new minimum monthly wage at 205 hryvnyas ($38.50) as of December 2003, 237 hryvnyas as of November 2004, and 262 hryvnyas as of January 2005, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Some 161 opposition lawmakers ignored the vote. Deputies from the Our Ukraine, Socialist Party, and Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc caucuses were blocking the parliamentary rostrum before and after the vote as a means of protesting this new minimum wage, which they consider too low. Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn closed the session over the tumult. The current minimum monthly wage in Ukraine is 185 hryvnyas. JM
CIS COUNCIL OF FOREIGN MINISTERS GATHERS IN KYIV OVER GEORGIA CRISIS. Participants in a meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers in Kyiv on 25 November said they expect that current political processes in Georgia will return to the constitutional track, Interfax reported. "The [CIS] Council of Foreign Ministers voices its hope that the future, legitimately elected authorities of Georgia will consistently follow a policy of preserving and developing friendly relations with the CIS member states and other countries of the world," reads a statement adopted at the meeting. Turkmenistan was not represented at the meeting. JM