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TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE REACH LIMITED AGREEMENT ON GAS SALES. Ukrainian Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov and Turkmen Oil Minister Guichnazar Tachnazarov signed a memorandum in Ashgabat on 27 October on the volume of goods supplied by Ukraine to pay for shipments of Turkmen gas in 2004-2005, Interfax-Ukraine reported. But as "Kommersant-Ukraine" reported on 28 October, the visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov to Turkmenistan on 26-27 October failed to produce a comprehensive accord on 2006 shipments. The price of 2006 shipments of Turkmen gas is still to be negotiated. Moreover, Ukraine has agreed to Russian participation in the 2006 price negotiations, the newspaper noted. DK

Stung by a report that Ukraine now has fewer Russian-language schools than does Uzbekistan, and apparently convinced that such linguistic shifts are a cause and not simply a consequence of political changes, Moscow officials are planning to step up their efforts to defend and promote the use of the Russian language in the post-Soviet states.

In an interview in the 27 October issue of "Parlamentskaya gazeta," Irina Khaleeva, who is head of the Moscow State Linguistic University, said knowledge of Russian in these countries, while still high, is falling rapidly because schools there are not teaching Russian, and the governments of those countries are requiring the use of other languages (

Only three of these countries -- Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan -- now grant Russian the status of a state language, and in many, the governments are actively working to promote their national languages at the expense of Russian, something Khaleeva said threatens to create new divisions not only among peoples but among countries as well.

Indeed, she argued, the only country among this group where the status of Russian is where it should be is Belarus. There it is a required subject in schools, and specialists in Russian language and literature are still being trained in universities. That approach, she continued, should be but at present is not "a model for other countries."

Khaleeva suggested, somewhat improbably, that the decline in the use of Russian was part of a plan by the West to weaken Russia, noting that during the Cold War, the United States and its allies had concluded that "they did not need to use the atomic bomb; they only needed to convince these peoples they could cope without a knowledge of the Russian language."

And she said that many of the 40,000 nongovernmental organizations that the West has set up in the countries of the post-Soviet states continue to have among their goals the promotion of national languages and the of use of English as the new language of international communication.

To counter these threats, to defend Russian speakers abroad, and to promote Moscow's ties with these countries, Khaleeva said, she and other officials are working on plans for a three-pronged counterattack to defend the Russian language and expand its use outside the Russian Federation -- especially among the younger generation.

First, she said, her university is setting up an institute to train specialists in "the organization of carrying out information work abroad, [training] professionals who will be able not only to promote the international image of [Russia] and work with compatriots, but also to block various PR efforts against Russia," particularly in the language area.

Second, she continued, there are intense, ongoing discussions about establishing a special administration of interregional and cultural ties with foreign countries within the Russian Federation's presidential administration. Once set up, that body too will seek to promote the use of Russian in the former Soviet republics.

And third, she and others are urging that the newly established Russian Federation Social Chamber and the long-established Social Chamber of the Union of Belarus and Russia be tasked with the defense of the Russian language throughout the region.

In other comments, Khaleeva suggested that the Russian language is also under attack within the Russian Federation, and that some of the national languages spoken in other countries are at risk of degradation as well because of the actions of unwelcome outside forces.

"Within Russia itself," she said, one cannot fail to notice that the Russian language does not always find itself in a comfortable position. On the contrary, the leaders of some national republics -- she named Tatarstan in particular -- are striving to promote their local languages at the expense of Russian.

At the same time, the Russian language itself is being corrupted by the introduction of Western terms and slang, a development that Khaleeva argues undercuts its attractiveness not only to others but even to native speakers of Russian, and in this way also threatens the future of the country.

In other countries in the region, she continued, the impact of foreign languages on the local language is also taking place. She claimed that Ukrainian is being "subjected to serious deformation" by the imposition of Polish syntax and English vocabulary, after having been, according to her, promoted and protected in the Soviet Union.

Khaleeva's comments obviously reflect her bureaucratic self-interest, but her words are nonetheless a measure of mounting concern about the extent to which the former Soviet republics are moving away from Russia, and an indication that Moscow may finally, after much discussion, be preparing to try to reverse that trend.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has nominated Vasyl Prysyazhnyuk as prosecutor-general, Interfax reported on 31 October. The nomination is subject to approval by the Verkhovna Rada. Prysyazhnyuk currently serves as a deputy prosecutor-general and a Kyiv prosecutor. The post of the prosecutor-general has been vacant since Yushchenko dismissed Svyatoslav Piskun on 14 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 2005). AM

PRESIDENT SEEKS UKRAINIAN ACCESSION TO WTO THIS YEAR... President Yushchenko on 28 October called on the Ukrainian government to intensify its efforts to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of this year, Interfax reported. "[We are] bringing domestic legislation in line with WTO requirements," Yushchenko said, adding that "means of protecting the interests of domestic manufacturers are under development." According to the Ukrainian Economy Ministry, Ukraine is currently in compliance with approximately 80 percent of the WTO's accession requirements. AM

...ALTHOUGH UKRAINE NOT CONSULTING RUSSIA ON WTO EFFORTS. Presidential Secretariat head Oleh Rybachuk said on 28 October that Ukraine is not conducting talks with Russia regarding their joint efforts to join the WTO, UNIAN reported. "It is technically impossible to synchronize the two independent countries' entry, and Ukraine is not conducting any talks [on synchronization]," Rybachuk said, adding that a decision on Ukraine's accession to the WTO will be made by the organization itself. Rybachuk also announced that a Ukrainian delegation intends to visit Washington regarding the WTO efforts, but did not indicate when this will happen. AM