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Ukraine: Kyiv Marks 10th Anniversary

Kyiv, 24 August 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine will today continue its celebrations of the 10th anniversary of its independence from the former Soviet Union. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski are scheduled to attend a military parade in Kyiv.

The parade marks the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's declaration of independence. The inauguration of a new monument celebrating Ukraine's independence also will take place.

Yesterday, the three leaders, along with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, attended celebrations marking the anniversary.

Putin and Kuchma met for bilateral talks. Putin said Russia and Ukraine are linked by what he called a "strategic partnership." He said the partnership is important for Europe and the world.

Kwasniewski had separate meetings with Kuchma and Putin. Kwasniewski invited Putin to visit Poland. ITAR-TASS reports the visit will take place next January.

Putin and Trajkovski are due to meet today in Kyiv to discuss the role Russia can play in solving the conflict in Macedonia.

They are meeting as NATO continues its deployment in Macedonia of 3,500 troops who will collect weapons voluntarily surrendered by ethnic Albanian rebels. The deployment is expected to be completed in about 10 days.

Putin said yesterday he "counts very much on" the NATO operation succeeding. But he said there are "great doubts that it will, because it's difficult to count on the rebels handing over their arms."

He said the main task is not to seize the arms, but to "create conditions at which peace comes" to Macedonia.

Moscow has supported the Macedonian government in its fight against the ethnic Albanian rebels.