The Kazakh State Duma has unanimously ratified a Russian-Kazakh agreement to divide the northern part of the Caspian seabed and a pertinent protocol of July 6, 1998, according to Interfax News Agency. The agreement ensures sovereign rights in the use of natural resources. A total of 282 deputies voted in favor of the agreement, meeting the required minimum of 226 votes. Although the agreement has not resolved all Caspian issues, "it is an event of huge political importance," noted Boris Pastukhov, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots. The document "paves the way for a new legal status of the Caspian based on Russia's formula," Pastukhov said.