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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATORS QUESTION FORMER PREMIER. Former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the opposition Party of Regions, appeared for questioning as a witness in Kyiv on 6 June, in a case involving alleged misuse of budgetary funds in the construction of an airport in his native region, Donetsk, Ukrainian news agencies reported. "The authorities are diverting public attention from urgent problems in our country," Yanukovych said. "There is nothing to frighten me and there are no reasons to flee [Ukraine]. I don't feel guilty and I will serve my motherland in my country," Yanukovych said after a three-hour interrogation at the Interior Ministry's Kyiv Directorate for Combating Organized Crime. Yanukovych did not rule out being asked back for further questions, saying that the investigators are also interested in separatist tendencies in eastern Ukraine that surfaced during the 2004 presidential-election campaign. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER ORDERS RESALE OF STEEL GIANT. Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko told journalists in Kyiv on 6 June that she has instructed the State Property Fund to immediately begin preparations for the sale of the Kryvorizhstal company, the country's largest steel mill, Interfax reported. "I signed the instructions to start the Kryvorizhstal privatization tender immediately, using a shortened procedure," Tymoshenko said. Kryvorizhstal was sold in 2004 for some $800 million in a controversial tender that was annulled by a court last week (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 3 June 2005). Tymoshenko added that the controversial winners of the Kryvorizhstal tender in 2004, Ukrainian economic moguls Rynat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk, may take part in a reprivatization tender if they desire. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET REPORTS REPAYMENT OF WAGE ARREARS IN BUDGET SECTOR. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Tomenko told journalists in Kyiv on 6 June that the government has paid off all its debts to budget-sector employees, Interfax reported. JM

RUSSIA SIGNALS GAS PRICE FOR UKRAINE MAY TRIPLE. The price of Russian gas delivered to Ukraine might soar from the current $50 for 1,000 cubic meters to $160 in 2006, RIA-Novosti reported on 6 June, citing a source close to ongoing talks between Gazprom head Aleksei Miller and Naftohaz Ukrayiny head Oleksiy Ivanchenko. According to the source, the potential price hike is connected to an earlier agreement that, starting from 2006, Russia and Ukraine will switch to cash payments (under European-level tariffs) for Russian gas deliveries to and gas transit across Ukraine. JM