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RUSSIA DENIES REPORTS OF MIG DELIVERIES TO SYRIA. On June 19, the state arms dealer Rosoboroneksport denied a report in that day's issue of the daily "Kommersant" that the firm recently began shipments of five MiG-31E interceptor fighters to Syria as part of a deal funded by Iran, Russian news agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 19, 2007). Sergei Chemezov, who heads the company, said at the Le Bourget Air Show near Paris that "Russia has no plans to deliver fighters to Syria and Iran." He added that "this question has not been discussed, and therefore we have nothing to talk about. If we have something to announce, we will do so." On June 20, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Anna Azari said that any such Russian sales to Syria "would cause serious concern in Israel," Interfax reported. She added that "Iran's involvement in a hypothetical deal like that would arouse even greater concerns." She stressed that she hopes the media reports "were just incorrect" and that Russia still adheres to President Vladimir Putin's earlier pledge "not to change the balance of forces" in the Middle East. Azari was born in Lithuania in 1959 and is a former ambassador to Ukraine and Moldova, specializing in the affairs of the CIS and Baltic states. PM
AZERBAIJAN HOSTS GUAM SUMMIT. The presidents of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Romania, Lithuania, and Poland and the prime minister of Moldova attended a summit of the GUAM regional alignment in Baku on June 18-19, together with lower level representatives from Latvia, Bulgaria, Austria, Japan, and the United States, Azerbaijani media reported. Founded in late 1997 to counter perceived Russian revanchism, GUAM (of which Uzbekistan was for a few years also a member) has evolved into a counterweight to the Commonwealth of Independent States, which GUAM members perceive as an ineffective instrument by which Russia seeks to preserve its dwindling influence over other former Soviet republics. Its members have also sought to capitalize to the maximum degree on the potential of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine to serve as an energy corridor from the Caspian to Europe, bypassing Russia. Discussions at the Baku summit focused on ongoing initiatives, such as the planned rail link from the Turkish city of Kars via Tbilisi to Baku, plans to create a GUAM peacekeeping force, and the use of the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline to export part of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil. Participants also discussed expanding cooperation in various fields, including information technology, security, and counterterrorism. The Baku Declaration signed on June 19 reaffirmed its members' shared commitment to cooperate in resolving conflicts on their territory; working with other international organizations; and energy security. LF
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PLANS AUTUMN SESSION DESPITE DECREE ON EARLY POLLS. The Verkhovna Rada on June 19 decided to start its next regular session on September 4 and end it on January 11, 2008, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The resolution was approved by 263 of the 272 deputies present. Earlier the same day, lawmakers resolved to terminate their current session on June 27 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 19, 2007). On June 5, President Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree scheduling early parliamentary elections in Ukraine for September 30. More than 150 opposition lawmakers from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine gave up their mandates earlier this month to pave the way for the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada and early polls. JM
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS RESTORE YULIA TYMOSHENKO BLOC FACTION IN PARLIAMENT. A group of 15 lawmakers who formerly belonged to the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT) have restored the BYuT parliamentary caucus in the Verkhovna Rada, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported on June 19. Earlier this month, 103 BYuT deputies resigned their seats, while a BYuT congress formally dismissed those lawmakers who refused to tender their resignations. "Not sharing the position of the leadership of the [BYuT] caucus, which in our opinion may lead to unforeseeable consequences, a group of people's deputies refused to abandon the caucus and returned to the session hall to perform their parliamentary duties," Mykola Zamkovenko, who was elected head of the reestablished BYuT faction, said in the Verkhovna Rada on June 19. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS TWO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES ONCE AGAIN. President Yushchenko has issued decrees dismissing two Constitutional Court judges, Valeriy Pshenychnyy and Volodymyr Ivashchenko, in connection with their resignations, Ukrainian media reported on June 19, quoting the presidential press service. Yushchenko already sacked Pshenychnyy and Ivashchenko on April 30 and May 10, respectively, accusing them of a "breach of oath." The current decrees on the dismissals of Pshenychnyy and Ivashchenko were published on the presidential press service's website (http://www.president.gov.ua) on June 15, but they disappeared from there several hours later. The press service commented later the same day that their publication was due to a "technical error." On May 1, Yushchenko dismissed another Constitutional Court judge, Syuzana Stanik, similarly accusing her of a "breach of oath." JM