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MOSCOW HOSTS INFORMAL CIS SUMMIT. The presidents of eight of the 12 CIS member states met informally for dinner in Moscow on July 21, and continued discussions the following day, Russian media reported. The July 22 discussions focused on proposals by Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbaev for reforming CIS structures to render them more effective, regnum.ru reported. The most important of those proposed innovations is a requirement that all CIS decisions in the spheres of migration policy, transport, education, "modern challenges," and humanitarian affairs be adopted by consensus. The 12 presidents are to decide on that proposal at their next summit, to be held in Minsk in November 2006, Interfax quoted Nazarbaev as saying. He added that Russia should serve as the driving force for closer integration among CIS states. Other, unspecified participants argued in favor of a common CIS defense system. Armenia's Robert Kocharian did not attend, having caught a chill swimming earlier last week; Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili stayed away after being informed it would not be possible to meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines; Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko opted out, citing domestic political tensions, according to dpa; and Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov has not attended an informal CIS summit since 2002. The culmination of the gathering was a horse race at the Moscow hippodrome in which a bay colt from Russia and a black colt from Azerbaijan finished neck and neck and shared first and second prize, regnum.ru reported. The Epsom Derby has ended in a dead heat only once in its 226-year history. LF
TYMOSHENKO BLOC DEPUTIES MOVE TO LEAVE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT... Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the eponymous political bloc, told journalists in Kyiv on July 24 that 125 deputies have signed a declaration to leave her bloc's parliamentary caucus, Ukrainian media reported. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) has also adopted an appeal to lawmakers from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine to make a similar move and give up their parliamentary seats. Tymoshenko argues that, under a constitutional provision, if more than 150 lawmakers abandon the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada, the president would have the right to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. In this way, the BYuT hopes to prevent the "anti-crisis" coalition recently forged by the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party from forming a government in Ukraine. The BYuT has 129 parliamentary mandates and Our Ukraine 81. JM
...AS PRESIDENT PONDERS DECISION ON CANDIDATE FOR PREMIERSHIP. President Viktor Yushchenko said in a radio address to the nation on July 22 that, in accordance with the constitution, he has 15 days to consider the motion of the parliamentary coalition of the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party to submit a candidate for the post of prime minister for parliamentary approval. The candidacy of Viktor Yanukovych for this post was officially submitted by the coalition to President Yushchenko on July 18. Lawmaker Raisa Bohatyryova from the Party of Regions told journalists on July 24 that Yushchenko may submit Yanukovych's candidacy to parliament on July 24 or 25. The constitution gives the Ukrainian president the right to dissolve parliament if it fails to form a majority within 30 days after its first sitting or to form a new cabinet within 60 days after the dismissal or resignation of the previous one. Caretaker Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov's cabinet officially resigned on May 25, so Yushchenko might practically disband the Verkhovna Rada on July 25, as Ukraine still has no new cabinet. JM