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Russia: Parliament Demands Ukraine Surrender Port

Moscow, 5 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The upper chamber of the Russian parliament today publicly demanded that Ukraine hand over the Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol, saying it was part of Russia and Kyiv had no right to govern it.

The Federation Council endorsed the non-binding resolution by a majority of 110 to 14.

Correspondents said the move is likely to cause a storm of protest in Kyiv and disrupt delicate negotiations between the two governments.

Russia and Ukraine have failed to agree in more than four years of negotiation what to do about the disputed former Soviet Black Sea fleet, based mainly in Sevastopol.

The resolution and another document setting up a special commission to prepare a draft law on the status of Sevastopol were proposed by Moscow's powerful mayor Yuri Luzhkov, an ally of president Boris Yeltsin, who is widely touted as a possible successor to the president.

Luzhkov argued that a 1954 Kremlin decision to transfer the Crimean peninsula from Russia to Ukraine did not include Sevastopol which had a special status at the time.