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Russian, Ukrainian Parliaments OK Border, Trade Deals

20 April 2004 -- The Russian and Ukrainian parliaments today ratified two bilateral agreements to solve a standing border dispute and create a single economic zone.

The votes in both legislative chambers -- Russia's State Duma and Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada -- were overwhelmingly in support of the measures.

Russia and Ukraine have been disputing various issues concerning the Azov Sea, which has high commercial value.

Last fall, the dispute boiled over when Russia started building a dike to an island claimed by Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, sparking a diplomatic row.

The measure creating the unified free-trade zone concerned Belarus and Kazakhstan, in addition to Russia and Ukraine.