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DATE=1/25/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / POLITICS (L) NUMBER=2-258421 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's Acting President Vladimir Putin has hosted his first summit of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (C-I-S) - a loose coalition of 12 former Soviet republics. V- O-A Moscow correspondent Eve Conant reports Mr. Putin has been elected to lead the Council - a move that confirms Russia's leadership role in the body and further boosts Mr. Putin's chances in coming presidential elections. TEXT: Presidents of the Commonwealth of Independent States agreed that the threat of terrorism and the need to fight insurgency and extremism are among their top concerns. Leading security officials also attended the meeting - the first summit to be hosted by Acting President Vladimir Putin. The C-I-S leaders elected Mr. Putin as their chairman to replace former President Boris Yeltsin without waiting for the outcome of the March presidential elections. Analysts say the move could further boost Mr. Putin's chances to win the presidency by showing how former republics respect Mr. Putin's leadership. Uzbek President Islam Karimov was one of several leaders who expressed their admiration for Mr. Putin. /// Act Karimov in Russian in full and fade under /// He says, by supporting Mr. Putin as the head of the C-I-S, we are showing who we would like to see as the next President of Russia. Acting President Putin said Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan had proposed an international security program to fight terrorism in the former Soviet regions. /// First Putin act in Russian in full and fade under/// He says, there seems to be an illusion that terrorism can actively develop in the weak spots of the former Soviet territories. But he says, we won't let terrorists do that. We will work together energetically and decisively. Mr. Putin also met separately with the presidents of Caucasus nations Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia to discuss security concerns and the fighting in Chechnya. Russia's media has started to cast doubt on official casualty reports, which could undermine popular support for the war and for Mr. Putin. Analysts say backing for the Chechnya offensive from C-I-S leaders is crucial for Moscow and would help Mr. Putin deflect western criticism of the campaign. /// REST OPT /// Despite being elected as the C-I-S leader, Acting President Putin tried to downplay historical fears that Russia would try to play an overbearing role in the council. /// Second Putin act in Russian in full and fade under/// He says, cooperation with C-I-S countries has always been and will remain a priority for Russia. The C-I-S, created after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, was formed to promote military, economic, and political ties between former Soviet republics. It has failed to serve as a unifying body largely because of economic differences and a fear that Moscow would try to dominate proceedings. (Signed) NEB/EC/GE/gm 25-Jan-2000 13:02 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 1802 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .