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Belarus, Kazakhstan may take over CIS presidency from Ukraine

March 19, 2014, 21:47 UTC+3 MINSK
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MINSK, March 19,  /ITAR-TASS/. The decision on who would lead the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, a loose association of former Soviet republics) after Ukraine gave up the CIS presidency may be adopted on Thursday at a meeting of the CIS member states’ permanent representatives, the CIS Executive Committee said Wednesday.

“Belarus, which chaired the CIS in 2013, and Kazakhstan, which is to take over the presidency in 2015, are currently co-chairs of the CIS,” the committee told Itar-Tass.

A Ukrainian representative is expected to notify his counterparts of the suspension of Ukraine’s CIS presidency and to hand the CIS executive secretary a relevant note at tomorrow's meeting.

“Ukraine has decided not to continue its presidency of the Commonwealth. A relevant note will be sent today,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebiynis told journalists on Wednesday.

Perebiynis said the decision was made because the CIS members allegedly failed to fulfill the conditions of an agreement signed when the CIS was founded.

“Ukraine reserves the right to consider the expediency of further participation in CIS activity,” he said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich left Ukraine in February, citing security concerns, after a coup in his country. He said on March 11 in south Russia that he remains the legitimate Ukrainian leader despite “an anti-constitutional seizure of power by armed radicals.” Russia considers Yanukovich the legitimate Ukrainian president.

The Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum on March 16, at which some 97 percent voted to secede from Ukraine and become part of Russia. On Tuesday, Russia and Crimea signed in Moscow a treaty on Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation as a constituent member.

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