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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS PARLIAMENT TO RETRACT CABINET OUSTER... President Viktor Yushchenko said at a government meeting on 12 January that he has requested that the Verkhovna Rada cancel its 10 January decision to sack Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov's cabinet, UNIAN reported. "I have written an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada with the request that it cancel [its] unconstitutional decision to dismiss the government," Yushchenko said. Yushchenko added that he considers the current cabinet to be a full-fledged government, adding that Yekhanurov does not need to use the adjective "acting" before his official title. JM

...AND WITHDRAWS FROM PACT WITH POLITICAL RIVAL. President Yushchenko also informed the Cabinet of Ministers on 12 January that he has withdrawn his signature under the memorandum he signed with his former presidential rival, Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych, to enlist Yanukovych's support for the approval of Yekhanurov as prime minister in September, UNIAN reported. Yushchenko explained that the Party of Regions violated the memorandum by voting to dismiss Yekhanurov on 10 January. In particular, Yushchenko obliged himself in the 10-point memorandum to restrain from using "repression against the opposition" and to draft a bill on amnesty for those guilty of election fraud in the 2004 presidential election (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 4 October 2004). JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO STICK TO GAS DEAL WITH RUSSIA. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Astana on 11 January that Kyiv will not "break" its gas deal with Moscow, which served as a reason for the dismissal by the parliament of Prime Minister Yekhanurov's cabinet the previous day, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "Ukraine will not break any article of our agreements with Russia or with our western partners," Yushchenko declared at a joint news conference with Putin. "When Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on 1 January 2006, Ukraine compensated for 80 percent of the [gas] deficit from its underground gas storage facilities to spare Western consumers any discomfort," he added. "We both believe that the gas agreement signed on 4 January this year is fully consistent with the principles of market economy. It is our common choice in favor of new forms of Russian-Ukrainian relations and it was made with the full respect of the interests of both parties," Putin said at the same news conference. JM

KAZAKH PRESIDENT BEGINS NEW TERM. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev took the oath of office and officially began a new seven-year term in a ceremony in Astana on 11 January, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. In his inaugural address, Nazarbaev called the 91-percent support he received in the country's 4 December election a vote of "confidence" and "unity," Khabar reported. Outlining domestic and foreign-policy priorities, Nazarbaev vowed to make Kazakhstan one of the 50 most developed countries in the world, stressing plans for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Kazakhstan's bid to chair the OSCE in 2009. Nazarbaev stated that Kazakhstan is "firmly committed to strategic partnership with Russia, the People's Republic of China, and the United States." The inauguration ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Croatian President Stipe Mesic, and Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. DK