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UKRAINIAN PREMIER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych visited Kazakhstan on December 14 and met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov in Astana for talks focused on joint projects, news agencies reported. Akhmetov and Yanukovych said the two countries will "study Ukrainian companies' possibilities that may help implement Kazakhstan's plans to build nuclear power plants and electricity-generating and transport infrastructure facilities on its territory," Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. After their meeting, Nazarbaev announced that Ukraine will supply Kazakhstan with two AN-148's, a new regional jet, in 2007, Interfax-AVN reported. Finally, Akhmetov said that bilateral trade volume is set to total $1.5 billion in 2006, after reaching just over $1 billion in 2005, ITAR-TASS reported. DK
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INSISTS ON RETAINING FOREIGN MINISTER... Viktor Yushchenko told a news conference with foreign correspondents in Kyiv on December 14 that he does not recognize the dismissal of Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk by parliament on December 1 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," December 1, 2006), the "Ukrayinska pravda " website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. "Any legal expert will tell you that if the president submits a candidate for foreign minister to parliament for approval, it is also the president who initiates the discharge of this minister," Yushchenko said. The Ukrainian Constitution, while giving the president the right to nominate the foreign minister, does not specify who should propose a motion to dismiss him/her from the post. "Borys Ivanovych Tarasyuk is performing his duties as foreign minister. I have rejected an initiative from Prime Minister [Viktor Yanukovych] to change [Tarasyuk]," Yushchenko stressed. Following the vote on his dismissal, Tarasyuk has been barred from attending cabinet meetings. JM
...AND ACCUSES PRIME MINISTER OF PROVOKING 'CONFLICT.' President Yushchenko also admitted to foreign correspondents in Kyiv on December 14 that his relations with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych are bad, Reuters reported. "I agree that relations between the president and the prime minister are becoming more of a conflict. But I want to stress that I was not an author of this conflict," Yushchenko said. Yushchenko also charged that his rivals in the government are trying to seize all executive power. "A new team has come. The feeling is that the entire world is under their feet, that they can do whatever they want from morning till night. There is a desire for revenge, to see everybody defeated," Yushchenko noted. "[But] they will not make the president change his position," he added. JM