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Former Soviet States Join To Fight Financial Crisis

BISHKEK (Reuters) -- Eleven former Soviet states forming the loose Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have decided to join forces in handling the impact of the global financial crisis, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev said.

"A decision was made today to create a working group of finance ministers in connection with the situation in the global economy," Bakiev, whose country currently chairs the CIS, told its summit in the capital Bishkek.

"I mean the financial crisis which has affected everyone," he added.

Bakiev said CIS finance ministers are expected to meet in Moscow within the next 10 days.

The Russia-dominated CIS, created to reach a civilized divorce when the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, has failed to become an effective integration body.

But its members, some of which are locked in bitter bilateral conflicts like Armenia and Azerbaijan, use the groupings' summits as a convenient meeting point for maintaining informal contacts.

Russia, annoyed by what it sees as Western attempts to enter its traditional spheres of influence, is looking for new incentives to keep former Soviet countries within its orbit.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who met Bakiev in Bishkek on October 9, made clear that joint anticrisis action could be one such incentive.

Russia's huge gold and foreign-currency reserves, accumulated over a decade of rapid economic growth, could be an attractive anchor for former Soviet states in the times of crisis.

"The European Union has adopted important decisions concerning the coordination of financial activities," Medvedev said in a statement after the talks. "These decisions had a direct financial impact including on stock markets."

"We need similar coordination if we want to remain competitive and if we want to overcome the financial crisis with minimal losses," he added.