Moscow, 23 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The head of Russia's southern Krasnodar Krai has ordered a halt to the construction of a sea dam that is strongly opposed by Ukraine. The order today by Governor Aleksandr Tkachev to temporarily stop work on the dam near Tuzla, a small island off Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, came one day before Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich are due to meet in Moscow to discuss the dispute.
Russia says the dam, in a narrow channel connecting the Azov and Black seas, is needed to prevent erosion in Russian territory. Ukraine says Russia began building the dam without permission and the barrier will cause ecological damage in Ukraine and could infringe on its territory.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma cut short a tour of Latin America and today visited the site to get acquainted with the situation.