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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINE, RUSSIA SIGN 10-YEAR DEAL ON GAS TRANSIT. Ukraine's Naftohaz Ukrayiny and Russia's Gazprom signed an accord in Kharkiv on 21 June under which Gazprom pledged to transport at least 110 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas annually via Ukrainian pipelines until 2013, Ukrainian media reported. The deal apparently puts an end to Russian threats to build a new gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine because of Ukrainian gas theft. Moreover, Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kasyanov, met in Kharkiv last week and ordered officials and experts to finalize by July details of the repayment of Ukraine's $1.4 billion gas debt to Gazprom with Eurobonds issued by Naftohaz Ukrayiny (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 2001). JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS PAYMENT OF BACK WAGES TO MINERS. President Leonid Kuchma has ordered Prime Minister Kinakh to take urgent measures to pay overdue wages in the coal-mining sector, UNIAN reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Kuchma reportedly called for 50 million hryvni ($9.5 million) to be paid monthly. Ukrainian miners are holding protests in Kyiv over wage arrears (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2002). JM

UKRAINIAN MINISTER URGES ADOPTION OF ANTI-MONEY-LAUNDERING BILL. Finance Minister Ihor Yushko has appealed to the Verkhovna Rada to adopt a law on combating money laundering by 10 October to avoid "additional" sanctions from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), UNIAN reported. "I'm very much hopeful that we will never learn what these [additional sanctions] may be," Yushko said, adding that the draft anti-money-laundering bill that is currently in the parliament meets world standards. Ukraine is one of 15 countries blacklisted by the FATF. JM

POLISH, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS MULL VISAS, OIL PIPELINE, CEMETERY CONTROVERSY. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma at an economic forum in Rzeszow on 21 June, where they discussed the planned introduction by Poland of visa requirements for Ukrainians, the ongoing controversy over the opening of the Polish military cemetery in Lviv, and the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline project, Polish and Ukrainian media reported. "We are working [with Ukraine] and the European Union to introduce a system of long-term, short-term, and affordable visas. We would like very much to be able to issue free visas for certain groups such as students," 1+1 Television quoted Kwasniewski as saying. Kwasniewski supported Polish-Ukrainian plans to build the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline. Polish experts estimate the cost of the Polish section of the pipeline at 429 million euros ($413 million). According to them, the pipeline connecting Brody with Plock in central Poland could be ready in 2006, while oil could be sent from Plock to Gdansk through already existing installations. Kuchma said Ukraine unconditionally backs the creation of an international consortium to manage the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk oil pipeline, UNIAN reported. JM