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Russia: Chernomyrdin's Visit To Ukraine In Doubt

Moscow, 12 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Russian Foreign Ministry says Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has postponed a visit to Ukraine that was scheduled for this month to deal with the Black Sea Fleet issue.

Itar-Tass news agency quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin telling reporters in Moscow today that the visit will be put off because the parties are unable to prepare the necessary documents in time.

Chernomyrdin planned to go to Kyiv to sign a package of agreements on the division of the Black Sea Fleet and related financial issues.

Meanwhile today, Ukraine reacted sharply to renewed Russian claims to the Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

A Foreign Ministry statement criticized sharply the decisions of the Russian State Duma to halt the division of the Black Sea Fleet and to proclaim the Russian status of Sevastopol. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it amounts to "territorial claims" against Ukraine.

If the Duma decisions come into force, first deputy foreign minister Anton Buteiko is quoted as saying, Ukraine will take appropriate measures at bilateral and international levels.

The Ukrainian Parliament will discuss the Black Sea problem at its session next week. Parliamentary speaker Aleksandr Moroz announced today Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma is expected to address the meeting, which will take place behind closed doors.