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SINGLE ECONOMIC SPACE SIGNATORIES TO PROCEED WITHOUT UKRAINE. Participants of the Single Economic Space (EEP) Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus agreed on 26 August to sign most of the basic statutory documents without the presumed fourth member of that project, Ukraine, according to Russian and international media. President Putin said after a meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko that everyone but the Ukrainian side expects to sign 29 documents by early December and another 15 by March, RIA-Novosti reported. President Yushchenko suggested Ukraine will join the group gradually and only "insofar as it does not obstruct Ukraine's move toward Europe," Ekho Moskvy reported, adding, "We cannot get a mandate from the Ukrainian parliament to create a supranational body [as other EEP members desire], and this must be taken into account." Putin added that "each country should decide whether the integration is beneficial for itself or not," adding, "If there are some doubts among the public, it is better to take one's time, to think the situation over, [and] to analyze all the pros and cons." Putin met the same day in Kazan with Yushchenko and accepted the latter's invitation to visit Ukraine. Putin also met briefly with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who reportedly praised Putin's "political courage and decisiveness" in effecting the contentious withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia, according to TNV. VY

U.S. SENATE DELEGATION HELD BY URALS AUTHORITIES. A U.S. delegation on a nuclear-disarmament tour headed by the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana), and Senator Barack Obama (Democrat, Illinois) was detained for three hours by officials at an airport in Siberia on 28 August before being allowed to depart for Ukraine, the "Chicago Tribune" reported. The group had visited a weapons-destruction site outside Perm prior to the incident. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Russia, Courtney Austrian, was quoted as saying local authorities held the passports of the delegation members and refused permission for the aircraft to depart until U.S. State Department and embassy officials intervened, "The New York Times" website reported. Lugar was quoted by the "Chicago Tribune," whose correspondent was accompanying the delegation, as saying the detention was "unfortunate" and "illustrates a dysfunctional state where the left and right hand don't know what either is doing and people are enforcing their whims of the day without deference to the world." The Federal Security Service (FSB) explained to Ekho Moskvy on 29 August that the incident occurred because the Perm airport is not on the list of destinations to which the U.S. delegation's military plane could fly without being subjected to an inspection. Russian officials have recently complained of security procedures at U.S. airports. First Deputy Duma Speaker Lyubov Sliska (Unified Russia) told TV-Tsentr on 9 July that she was subjected to a "humiliating body search" upon her departure from New York in June. "I wish high-ranking U.S. congressmen experienced the same disgraceful procedures at our airports," Sliska said. VY

PUTIN AIDE CITES AMBITIOUS FOREIGN-POLICY PLANS. Putin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said on 28 August that the Russian president has a busy international travel schedule planned for this fall, including official trips to several European capitals, UN headquarters in New York, and Asia, RIA-Novosti reported. Putin is slated to visit Germany on 8 September and a week later will fly to the United States to observe the 60th anniversary session of the United Nations. Putin will visit London for a Russia-EU summit in early October and is scheduled to be in South Korea for an Asian Pacific Economic Forum in mid-November followed by a state visit to Japan. Putin has also accepted invitations to visit Georgia and Ukraine but the dates of those visits are still unclear, Prikhodko said. VY

AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION STAGES DEMONSTRATION. The opposition election bloc Azadlyg (Liberty) convened a demonstration in Baku on 27 August with the official consent of the municipal authorities, Azerbaijani media reported. Participants, many of them wearing orange clothing in a visual allusion to the revolution in Ukraine last winter, carried banners demanding that the 6 November parliamentary electons be free and fair, and appealing to U.S. President George W. Bush to "give us democracy," according to A statement adopted at the meeting demanded the creation of new election bodies on which the opposition and ruling party would have equal representation, and of equal conditions for all parliamentary candidates. ITAR-TASS estimated the number of demonstration participants at 5,000-15,000. Baku police cited a figure of 5,000, while Panakh Guseinov, co-chairman of the 16 October movement, claimed there were 40,000 demonstrators. The website, which earlier measured the precise dimensions of the square where the demonstration took place, calculated that allowing for "spillover" into adjacent streets, the number of people attending the demonstration could not have exceeded 8,500-9,000. LF

BELARUSIAN POLES ELECT NEW LEADER... A convention of the Union of Poles in Belarus (SPB) in Vaukavysk on 27 August elected Jozef Lucznik as the organization's new chairman to replace Andzelika Borys, whose election in March the Belarusian authorities refused to recognize, Belarusian media reported. The convention attracted a lot of attention from Polish and Belarusian media because of a protracted diplomatic row over the SPB between Warsaw and Minsk (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 16 August 2005). Neither independent journalists nor observers were allowed to attend the convention. The 69-year-old Luczak, a retired Polish-language and history teacher, said he agreed to head the SPB "in order to save it." SPB activists supporting Borys slammed the SPB convention in Vaukavysk as orchestrated by the authorities and undemocratic. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES HELP TO MINERS. President Viktor Yushchenko on 28 August visited Donetsk to take part in celebrations of Miners' Day, Reuters reported. Yushchenko said the government in 2006 will come up with a new policy to revamp Ukrainian industry. "I will assume personal responsibility for the coal industry," Yushchenko said to a gathering of miners, who reportedly gave him a warm reception. "Our task is that every mine, like the entire sector, should be profitable." Yushchenko's trip to Donetsk came two days after Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told officials there that an estimated $60 million had been allocated to settle miners' wage arrears. JM

RUSSIA REFUSES TO EXTRADITE FORMER UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL. The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has refused to hand over to Ukraine Ihor Bakay, former head of the property management department in the presidential administration of former President Leonid Kuchma. The office said Bakay is a Russia citizen, which excludes his transfer to Ukraine or any other country. Bakay is wanted in Ukraine in connection with his indictment on seven criminal charges, among them defrauding the state. JM