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RUSSIAN NEWSPAPER FORECASTS TOUGH TURKMEN-RUSSIAN GAS NEGOTIATIONS. Russia's "Gazeta" reported on 7 February, citing "informed sources in Turkmenistan," that a delegation from Russia's Gazprom is expected in Turkmenistan in the next two weeks to discuss the price the Russian gas giant pays for Turkmen gas. The current price is $44 per 1,000 cubic meters, paid half in cash and half in kind; after winning a price hike from $44 to $58 from Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 2005), Turkmenistan may be looking from more from Gazprom as well. But Turkmenistan has a long-term contract with Gazprom that is supposed to preclude any price hikes. Experts queried by "Gazeta" felt that Gazprom may walk away from the contract if the Turkmen side insists on a price rise. Dmitrii Tsaregorodtsev, an analyst with Rye, Man & Gor Securities, told the newspaper that Turkmenistan's only leverage is a threat to export gas on its own to Europe, but that Turkmenistan would need outside investment to do so, and European companies will be loathe to support the current political regime in the country. Dmitrii Mangilev, an analyst with Prospect Investment, commented, "In the end, Turkmenistan will be forced to agree to Russia's conditions." DK

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT STRESSES EUROINTEGRATION, PARTNERSHIP WITH RUSSIA... While introducing newly appointed Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk to the Foreign Ministry staff on 8 February, President Viktor Yushchenko stressed that European integration is the country's strategic course, Interfax reported. He added, however, that in order to take this course, Ukraine first needs to resolve its problems in its relations with Russia, which he called Ukraine's "eternal strategic partner." "We cannot go to Europe with three or four valises of problems with Russia," Yushchenko said. Speaking about Ukraine's integration with Europe and potential EU membership, Yushchenko said it is a policy "not for one year." "But the answer to the question when Ukraine will become an EU member is in Kyiv, not in Brussels," he added. Yushchenko said he is fully convinced that Tarasyuk is able to ensure the implementation of all Ukrainian foreign-policy interests. JM

...AND WANTS SECURITY SERVICE TO TACKLE CORRUPTION. While introducing newly appointed Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) chief Oleksandr Turchynov to the SBU staff on 8 February, President Yushchenko said he wants the SBU to focus primarily on fighting corruption and crime in the state, Interfax reported. "This is your sacrosanct duty -- begin with the customs service and police," Yushchenko said. "My goal is to have specific results by December.... Begin with three or four cases that are known to all people. I'm sure that several successful investigations regarding embezzlement of public funds will help prevent thousands of wrongdoings." The previous day, Yushchenko said that the appointment of Turchynov was a "very successful decision." "Turchynov is a well-known public politician, a kind of detonator, who will not let anyone feel safe," Yushchenko said. "On the other hand, he will act fairly and openly, which is the main thing to restore people's trust in the work of [the SBU]." JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER WANTS PROSECUTORS TO LOOK INTO ALL PRIVATIZATIONS. Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko said on 8 February that the government has requested that the Prosecutor-General's Office examine all privatization deals made in the country in the past, Interfax reported. "This examination will be concluded by 14 February, and the Prosecutor-General's Office will be able to provide the government with a full picture of how legally the privatization was conducted," Tymoshenko said. Tymoshenko added that the Prosecutor-General's Office has already appealed to the Supreme Court against a decision of the High Economic Court of October that acknowledged the controversial privatization of the Kryvorizhstal metallurgical giant as lawful (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2004). JM