UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PREMIER STRESSES NEED FOR SINGLE ORTHODOX CHURCH. Mykola Zhulynskyy said on 14 August that "Ukrainian Orthodoxy, which is today split into three branches, should be one and unified and should consolidate the Ukrainian people," Interfax reported. He added that the Russian Orthodox Church opposes the creation of a single Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Zhulynskyy was commenting on the meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, which condemned the attempts of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and some Ukrainian politicians to create a Church independent from Moscow. The Russian Orthodox Church considers the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) as the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine and regards the Kyiv Patriarchate followers as "schismatics." JM

UKRAINE'S GDP GROWS BY 5 PERCENT FROM JANUARY TO JULY. The State Statistics Committee reported on 14 August that in the first seven months of this year, Ukraine's GDP increased by 5 percent, compared with the same period last year. The government expects GDP to rise 2 percent this year. Last year's GDP shrank by 0.4 percent. JM


RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 2, No. 29, 15 August 2000

A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team


TYMOSHENKO COUNTERS RUSSIA WITH NEW GAS SUPPLY PROJECT. Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who is in charge of Ukraine's energy and fuel sector, disclosed in Kharkiv on 5 August that Kyiv has drawn up a plan to build a pipeline from Turkmen gas fields that will bypass Russia.

"This project was offered to Turkmenistan during my visit there on 24 July, and it was not rejected. The Turkmen seemed to have agreed with the project," the "Eastern Economist Daily" quoted Tymoshenko as saying. Tymoshenko added that "if Ukraine continues to restrict its transit ambitions, other countries will outstrip Ukraine, both in the construction of transit pipelines and in cash flows."

Tymoshenko said the proposed gas pipeline could go via the Caspian Sea or via Iran and then across Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Black Sea to reach the Crimean port of Feodosiya, where it would link up with Ukraine's pipelines. According to Tymoshenko, the project's cost recovery period would be from 6 and a half to 10 years. Tymoshenko is convinced that Ukraine could buy all the gas it needs from Turkmenistan and thus replace Russian gas imports. She warned, however, that Russia is planning to buy all Turkmen gas over the next 30 years, thus depriving Ukraine of the possibility to diversify gas supplies.

Tymoshenko said she has high hopes of President Leonid Kuchma's forthcoming visit to Ashgabat, where he will seek to reach agreement on the volume of Turkmen gas supplies and a payment mechanism. She recalled that Ashgabat offered its gas at $42 per 1,000 cubic meters on its borders, adding that the gas transporting company Itera can pump it to Ukraine for $18-20 per 1,000 cubic meters. She noted that Turkmenistan agreed to be paid in goods for 50 percent of its gas supplies to Ukraine.

Tymoshenko's scheme of Turkmen gas supplies may be nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of an ambitious politician or Kyiv's propaganda argument in the current Kyiv-Moscow controversy over the repayment of Ukraine's gas debt to Russia. It may also be an argument to counter Moscow's recently publicized intention to build a bypass gas pipeline in Poland or, if Poland disagrees, via Finland and the Baltic Sea, to free itself of its dependence on Ukraine's gas transit network. Whatever the reason, Tymoshenko's pronouncement testifies to the fact that there are other options in Kyiv with regard to bargaining over Ukraine's enormous gas debt to Russia than simply transferring part of Ukraine's gas pipeline network into Moscow's hands.

An unidentified official from Russia's Energy Ministry told ITAR-TASS on 9 August that Tymoshenko's project is "150 percent fantastic." And Itera said the same day that it has no agreement with Ukraine on Turkmen gas supplies.

It is not clear how, if at all, Tymoshenko's scheme is related to the U.S.-backed project of a trans-Caspian pipeline to move gas from Turkmenistan's Caspian Sea deposits to Turkey. John Wolf, adviser to the U.S. president and secretary of state for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on 11 August that the U.S is still interested in seeing the trans-Caspian project completed:

"Our position has been to continue to support the realization of the project. But there are [other] good offers on the table and it's really for Turkmenistan to decide whether or not it will go forward with the project. For our part, we are working with Turkey, because Turkey has requirements for [natural] gas and a strong desire to get gas from the Caspian. We're going to work with them to cooperate with Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan, whenever it's ready," Wolf said.

Regarding the rumors of a possible long-term deal between Russia and Turkmenistan for shipping natural gas, which could affect the trans-Caspian project, Wolf noted: "Turkmenistan made it clear as recently as this week that it still hopes to supply gas to Turkey. That was in the meeting between President Niyazov and the new Turkish ambassador to Ashgabat. We hope [Niyazov] will take concrete steps now to achieve that. The fact of the matter is, neither his sales to Russia, nor his sales to Iran, nor his sales to Turkey are going forward. Turkmenistan needs to make a choice and move forward."
The Moscow-based "Vremya novostei," quoting a highranking official in the Turkmen leadership, wrote on 10 August that Ashgabat has not yet given preference to any potential buyer of its gas. "Having taken a monumental-statue position, [Ashgabat] does not intend to lower its asking price to any of [the bidders]--$42 for 1,000 cubic meters and not a cent less, this is Turkmenistan's lowest profitability level," the source told "Vremya novostei."

"RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.