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UKRNAFTA GAS AND OIL PROJECTIONS FOR 2004 RELEASED. Ukraine's state oil-producing company, Ukrnafta, announced on 24 February that it is planning to increase oil production to almost 3 million tons in 2004, or about 62,800 barrels per day, according to Interfax Ukraine, A company spokesperson said this would constitute an increase of 3.6 percent over 2003 production by the company, which produces 93 percent of Ukraine's crude oil. Ukraine consumed 290,000 barrels of oil per day in 2001, roughly equal to the amount consumed that year by Hong Kong, and had proven reserves of 197.5 million barrels, according to the CIA "World Factbook" ( Ukrnafta also announced that it will increase natural-gas production by 2.3 percent to 3.3 billion cubic meters. Ukraine consumed 74.1 billion cubic meters of gas in 2001, with the difference imported from Turkmenistan by Naftohaz Ukrayina, the state natural-gas monopoly. Meanwhile, the "Russian Oil and Gas Report" of 20 February reported that Ukraine is about to establish a national oil company with full-cycle capability -- from oil production to sale of petroleum products on the Ukrainian domestic market. The formation of such a company was first announced in 2002 by the government of former Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh. The new, as yet unnamed entity, will be based on Ukrnafta and state-owned stakes in the Kremenchugsky, Nadviryansky, and Drohobychsky refineries. RK

UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE GENERAL DENOUNCED BY EX-BOSS. Volodymyr Radchenko, former head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and current head of the National Security and Defense Council, has denounced SBU General Valeriy Kravchenko's recent revelation that he received secret instructions from his superiors to gather information on members of the Ukrainian opposition as "unbefitting an officer of the SBU," Interfax Ukraine reported on 24 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 February 2004). Radchenko told the news agency that the political implications of Kravchenko's revelations were created artificially by his desire to remain in Germany for another year to save money to finish renovating his apartment in Kyiv. Radchenko said he signed the orders that sent Kravchenko to Berlin and took the general's recent actions "very painfully." RK

LEADING SENATOR DENOUNCES ALLEGED NATO DESIGNS. Federation Council International Relations Committee Chairman Margelov said that NATO expansion is proceeding according to "geopolitical maps" dating back to the turn of the 20th century, RIA-Novosti reported on 23 February. Russia, he said, "is to be pushed to the heart of Eurasia, on the northeast of the continent, where its so-called 'middle significance' is to be weakened." Margelov said Russia is also "being outflanked from the southeast in Central Asia with the [NATO's] Partnership for Peace program, which is being transformed into a military program." "As for the Baltic states joining NATO," Margelov said, "it's not only a go at Russia's northwest, but a strengthening of the anti-Russian make-up of the alliance and [the anti-Russian] mood of the elites of these states." Margelov also said NATO "is actively making advances to Georgia and Azerbaijan on the southern borders of Russia and at the same time setting up 'special relations' with Ukraine in the southwest." But none of this means Russia should take a "hostile stance" toward or "demonize" NATO, he cautioned. JB

WEEKLY REVIEWS RYBKIN'S STORY. Aleksandr Ryklin, writing in "Yezhenedelnyi zhurnal," No. 108, examined presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin's latest story of what happened to him during the five days earlier this month that he was missing from Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 2004). Ryklin suggested that Rybkin's claim that he was lured to Kyiv under the pretext of a possible meeting with Chechen leader Aslan Maskhakov is "extremely weak." "Why would Maskhadov risk his life to go to Kyiv to meet with a Russian politician of the fifth rank on which nothing has depended for a long time?" he asked. Ryklin admitted that "we will probably never know what happened to Rybkin during those five days." But he suggested that the Central Election Commission's reversal from one day to the next of how many invalid signatures Rybkin had submitted and the subsequent fact of Rybkin's registration as a candidate on 7 February could mean only one thing: "A political decision was made at the last moment, the basis of which was that Ivan Rybkin no longer represented any kind of threat and they had reached an agreement with him about everything." JAC