Tymoshenko To Seek Annulment Of Ukraine-Russia Gas Deal

KIEV, Ukraine -- Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Thursday that she and her supporters planned to launch legal action later in the day to annul Wednesday's Ukrainian- Russian natural gas agreement and punish the Ukrainian officials responsible for signing it.

Yulia Tymoshenko speaking at a press conference in Kiev

Tymoshenko told a news conference in Kyiv that she would seek charges of betrayal of national interests, exceeding of authority and abuse of office against top figures in the Fuel and Energy Ministry and national oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy.

"It is necessary to annul all the agreements that have been signed as agreements that run against national legislation and that [Naftogaz Ukrainy chief executive Oleksiy] Ivchenko was not authorized to sign. We have drafted a suit application to the Pechersky Court for this purpose," she said.

The ex-premier said the text of the suit would be published on the site of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, the party she heads, and urged "every active Ukrainian citizen" to use the text to file similar suits.

"It would be [the authorities'] duty to combine those cases and institute a single case instead and immediately investigate it," she said.

Tymoshenko said she would seek immediate dismissal of Ivchenko and Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov.

She also claimed that Naftogaz Ukrainy "takes multimillion loans from foreign banks in order to declare itself insolvent and then cede control of the entire gas Ukrainian transmission system as pay."

Asked whether President Viktor Yushchenko was involved in the alleged schemes, she said: "All these schemes have protection at the highest political level in Ukraine."

Asked whether she believed this meant Yushchenko should be impeached, Tymoshenko said: "First of all, a special investigating commission and a public council should do some work and present their conclusions, and after that it would have to be pondered who should be called to account for what has been done with gas in Ukraine and in what way they should be called to account."

Tymoshenko said Wednesday's gas agreement "completely destroyed a consistent and secure system of provision of Ukraine with gas," because, she said, all Ukrainian-Russian agreements that prescribed sales of Russian gas to Ukraine at $50 per 1,000 cubic meters until January 1, 2010, were still in force as of January 1, 2006.

Wednesday's deal would inflict losses of at least $4.5 billion in 2006 and losses of possibly twice as much in 2007, Tymoshenko said.

Moreover, under the new agreement Russia is to pay a fixed charge for the transit of its gas to Europe through Ukraine for five years but the deal sets no deadline for the use of the Ukrainian price for imports of Russian gas, she complained.

She also proposed that the Ukrainian parliament take advantage of a constitutional reform that took effect on January 1 and "take responsibility and take the necessary measures to overcome the emergency situation that has taken shape in the field of gas supply for the country," namely to immediately suspend Wednesday's agreement.

She put forward other proposals as well.

She suggested, namely, that Ukraine hold parliamentary-level talks with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia to seek unbrokered gas supplies; that the Prosecutor General's Office, Security Service and Audit Chamber look into the actions of the officials who signed Wednesday's gas agreement with Russia; that all the documents signed by them on Wednesday be published; and that a lawyers' council be convened to assess the situation.

Source: InterFax