GAZPROM INKS BIG DEAL IN FRANCE, GIVE OR TAKE A BILLION. President Putin told reporters in Paris on 31 October that Gazprom and Gaz de France concluded a deal the same day worth "between one and two billion dollars." Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev said the next day that the two companies have signed an agreement that provides for the construction of a pipeline across Poland, Slovakia, and Belarus--bypassing Ukraine--that would ship Russian gas to consumers in Western Europe. Meanwhile, conflicting reports have emerged over the future employment of Gazprom Deputy Chairman Valerii Remizov. A Gazprom spokesman said Remizov is on a business trip, while Vyakhirev told "Vedomosti" that Remizov has resigned. Interfax reported that according Gazprom's charter, only the company's board of directors can sanction Remizov's termination ahead of the five-year term to which he was elected. JAC

TURKMENISTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE. In accordance with an agreement signed during Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's visit to Ashgabat last month, on 1 November Turkmenistan resumed supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, AP reported. Turkmenistan is to supply 5 billion cubic meters this year at a cost of $38 per 1,000 cubic meters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 2000. LF

UKRAINE TO STEP UP DEVELOPMENT OF 'EURASIAN OIL TRANSPORT CORRIDOR.' The Council of National Security and Defense announced at its 1 November sitting, chaired by President Leonid Kuchma, that the government's performance in diversifying energy supplies and in completing the OdesaBrody oil pipeline has been unsatisfactory, Interfax reported. The council noted that the Odesa oil terminal and the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline are an important component of the "Eurasian oil transport corridor." It proposed "a number of economic and political measures to strengthen Ukraine's role in the Eurasian oil transport corridor," including the creation of an international consortium to complete the Odesa-Brody pipeline. JM

CHORNOBYL NOT TO BE CLOSED BY 15 DECEMBER? The Council of National Security and Defense also recommended on 1 November that "appropriate ministries and government bodies" check the technical condition of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and study "possibilities for supplying fresh nuclear fuel to the plant in the next few months," Interfax reported, quoting "sources close to the [council]." Premier Viktor Yushchenko commented later the same day that this recommendation was made at a "working discussion level." Ukraine previously pledged to close the Chornobyl plant by 15 December. Meanwhile, Fred Higgs, secretary-general of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions, said in Kyiv the same day that the union will help raise at least $135 million to provide social protection for those who lose their jobs owing to the Chornobyl closure. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MULLS PRIVATIZATION OF GAS PIPELINES. The Supreme Council on 1 November debated a bill proposing the privatization of Ukraine's gas transport system, Interfax reported. The bill, submitted by deputy speaker Stepan Havrysh and lawmakers from four caucuses, calls for selling shares in the state company Ukrtranshaz--the owner of the network of some 36,000 kilometers of gas pipelines and underground gas repositories in Ukraine. According to the bill, the state is to retain 50 percent plus one share in Ukrtranshaz. Havrysh estimates that the value of the country's gas transport system may be $28.7 billion. Premier Viktor Yushchenko said the previous day that the government opposes the bill and considers leasing the gas transport system to international partners to be a better option. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 2001 BUDGET IN FIRST READING. The Supreme Council voted by 268 to eight with 22 abstentions on 2 November to back the 2001 draft budget in the first reading. The draft budget is balanced. The parliament simultaneously ordered the cabinet and the parliamentary Budget Committee to include proposals from lawmakers into the draft and submit it for a second reading by 16 November. JM

U.S. OFFERS $400,000 FOR INTERNET DEVELOPMENT IN UKRAINE. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual and U.S. Coordinator for Assistance to the Newly Independent States William Taylor announced on 1 November that their government is offering $400,000 in grants next year to develop Internet sites for free public use in Ukraine, Interfax reported. The grants will be distributed among 12-14 winners of a competition to establish Internet access sites at Ukrainian libraries. They will cover the costs of computer equipment and software, connection to the Internet, as well as expenditures on training and telecommunications. JM

POLAND 'NOT SURPRISED' BY GAZPROM-EU BYPASS PIPELINE PLAN. Premier Jerzy Buzek told the 2 November "Gazeta Wyborcza" that the Polish government is "not surprised" by the agreement between Gazprom and European firms to make a feasibility study of a gas pipeline linking Russia's Yamal peninsula with Europe while bypassing Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 November 2000 and also today's Part 1). Buzek added that Warsaw will have a say when it comes to determining "routes and methods of gas transit." "Nothing will be decided about us without us," Buzek added. The daily said that Yevhen Marchuk, chief of Ukraine's Council of National Security and Defense, is to visit Warsaw on 2 November to inform Polish officials about decisions made by the council the previous day (see items above). "Gazeta Wyborcza" added that Ukraine is ready to lease to Gazprom "a small oil pipeline" that crosses the Ukrainian-Slovak border at Dolina. JM