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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RosUkrEnergo Eyes Ukraine's Regional Firms

KIEV -- RosUkrEnergo, the intermediary company that supplies Ukraine with gas imports, is trying to seize control over Ukrainian regional gas companies, officials from the regional companies warned Thursday.

The heads of six regional gas companies said that after their shareholders refused to sell shares to RosUkrEnergo in October, law enforcement bodies began harassing the businesses with constant checks, Interfax reported, citing the regional heads of Zakarpatgaz, Volyngaz, Lvivgaz, Ivano-Frankivskgaz, Chernovtsygas and Chernihivgas.

Lyubomyr Shershun, head of the advisory council of Zakarpatgaz, said that the pressure appeared aimed at forcing a hostile takeover, Interfax reported.

Spokesmen for the regional gas companies refused to comment.

Ukraine's state gas monopoly, Naftogaz, later said the companies were facing criminal investigations into the alleged misappropriation of 70 million hryvna ($13.7 million), and called their allegations against RosUkrEnergo an attempt to divert attention.

RosUkrEnergo, which has offices in Switzerland, also refused to comment, saying its spokesman was not immediately available due to a national holiday.

RosUkrEnergo, which supplies Ukraine with all of its gas imports, was created in 2004 with the aim of acting as an intermediary between Russia's gas monopoly, Gazprom, and Naftogaz; the company is half-owned by Gazprom and two little-known Ukrainian businessmen.