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By Vittorio Hernandez
Moscow, Russian Federation
In an attempt to boost economic ties with Community of Independent States (CIS) nations, Russia inked free-trade agreements with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan.
The announcement, which came after talks in St Petersburg, said that the agreement would cancel import-export duties on a number of goods without revealing the type of goods.
Other three former Soviet Republic states - Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - are likely to join the trade deal by yearend.
The parliaments of these eight countries need to ratify the agreement before it becomes effective in 2012.
While Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described the move as more competitive, analysts believe that it was particularly aimed at attracting pro-Russian Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who had previously sought trade ties with the 27-nation EU bloc. Putin admitted that the much-awaited deal with Ukraine is significant to his country.
The Yanukovych government sent Ukraine's ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years imprisonment for misusing her powers over a 2009 gas deal, a development described by the EU as politically motivated.
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World - Russia Signs Trade Agreements with 7 Ex-Soviet Nations | Global Viewpoint