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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yanukovych Criticizes Pipeline Law

KIEV — Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday criticized a law banning any handover of Ukraine's gas pipelines, a day after his party supported it.

"It is just a political game. We have such laws and they were adopted a long time ago. The law offered nothing new," Yanukovych told his government.

"We should look forward and stand for friendly relations with our strategic partners instead of playing political games and hurting the state and a people," said Yanukovych, referring to Russia.

On Monday, the 450-seat parliament approved with 430 votes a law prohibiting any change in ownership of Ukraine's gas transport system or the property of Ukraine's state gas monopoly, Naftogaz.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin talked about setting up a joint venture with Ukraine to manage gas transit pipelines in Ukraine and to explore for gas in Russia.

After Yanukovych called the proposal promising, the opposition accused him of intending to hand over Ukraine's gas pipelines to Russia and demanded explanations. On Monday, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko secured cross-party support for the law after staging a protest in the parliament.

On Wednesday, Yanukovych denied all the accusations, saying talks with Russia were held regarding the construction of new pipelines. "We have never talked with Russia about the existing gas transport system," said the prime minister.