Tymoshenko Eyes Cheaper Gas in 2010

APUkrainians marking National Unity Day in Kiev on Thursday as the country's leaders sparred over a gas deal.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Thursday that Ukraine would try to negotiate a discount on Russian gas supplies for 2010, just days after Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy agreed on a 10-year contract to end a major pricing argument.

The dispute created widespread gas shortages in Central Europe, and the European Union served as a key mediator in the dispute. Political tension in Ukraine, particularly between Tymoshenko and erstwhile ally President Viktor Yushchenko, has caused some anxiety that the disruptions could resume.

Under the deal signed Monday, Ukraine will pay market prices from 2010. This year, however, Kiev will get a 20 percent discount on the price Gazprom charges Europe in exchange for maintaining the 2008 fee for pumping gas to Europe via Ukraine.

Tymoshenko, who praises the accord and the 2009 gas price as a "victory" for Ukraine, said Thursday that the National Security and Defense Council had no right to derail the deal she struck at weekend talks in the Kremlin.

Yushchenko, however, says the deal's provisions have gone against the national interest.

"We must not blindly believe alluring promises. We must not blindly believe politicians who, within an instant, betray the national interest," he said Thursday.

Tymoshenko said Friday's meeting of the National Security and Defense Council could in no way alter the deal's provisions.

"I will not allow the president to bring back corrupt intermediaries between Gazprom and Naftogaz, no matter what sort of council meeting he holds," Tymoshenko said.

(Bloomberg, Reuters, MT)