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YUSHCHENKO'S TRIP TO TURKMENISTAN YIELDS NO GAS DEAL. Ukrainian attempts to conclude a deal with Turkmenistan for a long-term delivery contract for natural gas did not materialize during President Viktor Yushchenko's visit to Ashgabad on 22-23 March. Despite this, the head of Naftohaz Ukrayina, Oleksiy Ivchenko, told Interfax that he is confident that Ukraine will continue to receive 30 billion to 40 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year after the present contract ends in December 2006. When asked how the 25-year Russian contract signed with Turkmenistan, which foresees deliveries of up to 60 bcm of gas per year beginning in 2007 -- would affect deliveries to Ukraine, Ivchenko replied that Turkmenistan has the capacity to produce enough gas to service both Ukraine and Russia. In fact, Turkmen gas production in 2004 was 58.8 bcm, a decrease from 2003's figure of 59.1 bcm. In the first month of 2005, production fell by 14 percent, due primarily to a stop in gas deliveries to Russia over a dispute with Russia's Gazprom over a new price for gas. Another drawback to Turkmen gas deliveries is that the trunk pipeline is capable of transporting only 50 bcm per year. RK
PROBE REOPENS INTO UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S DEATH. The death of Ukrainian opposition leader Vyacheslav Chornovil in a traffic accident in 1999 will be investigated once again, according to the Internal Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's office, Interfax reported on 23 March. Chornovil, a former political prisoner during the Soviet era, headed the Rukh party. He was killed when his car collided with a truck on 25 March 1999. Many opposition leaders believed the incident was staged for political purposes. An investigation at that time by the Internal Ministry concluded that Chornovil's death was due to an accident. Subsequently, the former head of the Security Service, Yevhen Marchuk, announced that he had been given a videotape on which Internal Ministry officers reportedly admitted the accident had been pre-arranged. Later, Marchuk claimed to have lost the tape. RK