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    PUTIN AND KUCHMA TO EXCHANGE INSTRUMENTS OF RATIFICATION OF TWO MOST IMPORTANT RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATIES

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    ALUSHTA (Crimea, Ukraine), April 23 (RIA Novosti) - On Friday Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma will participate in the ceremony of exchange of instruments of ratification of two most important Russian-Ukrainian treaties.

    They are the treaty between Russia and Ukraine on cooperation in using the Azov-Kerch water area and the treaty on the state border.

    The State Duma (the lower chamber of Russia's parliament) and the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine, in effect, synchronously ratified both documents on the same day, April 20. On Thursday the treaties were ratified by the Russian parliament's upper chamber, the Federation Council.

    The heads of the two states signed the treaty on cooperation in using the Azov-Kerch water area in Kerch on December 24, 2003.

    They signed the treaty between Russia and Ukraine, regulating the legal principles of the passage of the Russian-Ukrainian state border, in Kiev on January 28, 2003.

    On Tuesday Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, speaking in the State Duma, briefly characterized both treaties.

    Speaking of the treaty of the Russian-Ukrainian state border, Mr. Lavrov stressed that "it removes a number of substantial irritants." He also emphasized that the coming of this document into force would not create obstacles in free contacts between the two countries' citizens.

    Speaking of the Russian-Ukrainian treaty on the joint use of the Azov-Kerch water area, Sergei Lavrov stressed that this document "formalizes the water area's historically established status of inland waters of the two states." Russia's Foreign Minister highlighted the fact that the treaty provides for a ban on entry by warships of third countries into the Azov-Kerch water area without a consent of the countries - parties to the treaty, which is particularly topical within NATO's expansion eastward.

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