President Viktor Yushchenko appointed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich to be a co-chair of the committee on economic cooperation of the Ukrainian-Russian interstate commission, according to Itar-Tass.

The president made new appointments to the committee and increased the number of its members from 16 to 28. The newly appointed members are First Vice Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, as deputy head of the committee; Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Boiko and his deputy Vladimir Pyshny; the head of the presidential secretariat’s service for social and economic development, Pavel Gaidutsky; Industrial Policy Minister Anatoly Golovkol and his first deputy Vladimir Ryzhov; the prime minister’s aide Vitaly Gramoteyev; Supreme Rada member Vasily Gureyev; and Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Oleg Demin.

The other members of the committee are Agrarian Policy Minister Yuri Melnik, Labour and Social Policy Minister Mikhail Paniyev, Health Minister Yuri Poltachenko, Transport and Communication Minister Nikolai Rudkovsky, first deputy head of the State Property Fund Viktor Petrov, head of the government secretariat’s department of foreign economic policy and international cooperation Nikolai Maimeskul, Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Matsakaria, and Economics Minister Vladimir Makukha, who earlier served on the committee as deputy foreign minister.

Yushchenko also appointed National Bank deputy head Alexander Savchenko, member of the State Commission on Securities and the Stock Market Vladimir Kharitsky, State Customs Service deputy head Alexander Sheiko, and First Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Viktor Yankovsky.

National Space Agency Director Yuri Alexeyev, Deputy Economics Minister Andrei Bereznoi, First Deputy Education and Science Minister Andrei Gurzhy, the head of the trade and economic mission at the Ukrainian embassy in Russia, Igor Veremy, and National Security and Defence Council Deputy Secretary Vasily Rogovoi, all appointed in 2005, retained their posts.

The commission has not convened at the level of the presidents of Ukraine and Russia since its creation in May 2005. Ukraine hopes the first meeting could be held before the end of 2006.