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    KIEV, February 24, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Yevgeny Aleksandrov) - Russia and Ukraine have approached the next stage in developing their cooperation, which can be qualified as "a qualitatively new stage of bilateral relations, the time, when up-to-date models of cooperation between the countries are being worked out." The Chairman of the Russian State Duma disclosed this in his interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Den on the occasion of his visit to Ukraine. His two-day visit, the programme of which includes a meeting with President Leonid Kuchma, begins today.

    Touching upon cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries, the Russian State Duma Speaker proposed that they should form a special group, which would draft a new anti-corruption legislation and "would develop efficient legislative restrictions that would leave no place for organised crime." The head of the Lower House of the Russian parliament said that during the current visit he intends to propose that the leadership of the Ukrainian parliament should form a Ukrainian-Russian group for developing a Common Economic Space (CES) of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. The CES Agreement was signed last year by the Presidents of the four countries.

    According to Gryzlov, this joint group will "unify the legislation and make laws that will correspond to the up-to-date market standards." In developing economic cooperation, the CES member-countries will be able to compete with the economies of the Western countries, the United States and the European Union, and to become "respected and perspective market participants," the Russian Speaker believes.

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