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TURKMEN MINISTER SAYS GAS PRICE RISES AHEAD. Atamurat Berdiev, deputy prime minister of Turkmenistan and minister of oil and gas, told a conference in Ashgabat that his country intends to raise the price of the natural gas it sells to Russia and Ukraine, reported on 10 November. "Today, Turkmen gas is sold at a lower fixed price to accommodate the market means of importers," Berdiev said. "But the sharp rise in prices on the market for oil-industry equipment has led to an increase in the cost of drilling, production, and transportation of natural gas. Taking into account the overall increase in energy prices, we intend to raise the price of gas beginning next year." DK

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PUSHES FOR DEMOCRATIC COALITION FOR 2006... Viktor Yushchenko called on a congress of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine People's Union (NSNU) in Kyiv on 12 November to initiate the creation of a coalition of democratic forces for the 2006 parliamentary elections, Ukrainian media reported. "I am sure we must be the first to show that the authorities mustn't use administrative resources [in the elections]. I will dismiss any representative of the authorities for attempting to use administrative resources in the campaign, even before an investigation," Interfax-Ukraine quoted Yushchenko as saying. The congress reelected Deputy Prime Minister Roman Bezsmertnyy as NSNU head. Bezsmertnyy told journalists on 13 November that he would like to see Yushchenko as No. 1 on the party's parliamentary election list. Meanwhile, Yushchenko said last week that he would want Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov to top this list. JM

...AND SUBMITS BLOOD SAMPLES FOR TESTS. President Yushchenko has submitted samples of his blood for tests by domestic and foreign specialists to pursue the criminal case into the alleged poisoning that left his face pockmarked during last year's presidential election campaign, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported on 10 November, quoting presidential spokeswoman Iryna Herashchenko. An international team of doctors determined during the election campaign that Yushchenko was poisoned with a dose of dioxin. "I believe that one day I'll wake up as a totally healthy man and the terrible traces of dioxin will disappear from my face," Yushchenko said in a radio address to the nation on 12 November. JM

UKRAINIAN NEWSPAPER EDITOR BEATEN, HOSPITALIZED. Heorhiy Popov, editor in chief of the "Kommunist Donbassa" newspaper, was badly beaten in a stairwell of his apartment building in Donetsk on 10 November, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 11 November. "The entire stairwell was covered with blood; he has been hospitalized with a brain injury," Serhiy Ilyin, head of the Donetsk Oblast branch of the Communist Party, told the agency. According to Ilyin, the attack on Popov could be politically motivated. "He made a very impressive speech at the 7 November rally [to mark the Bolshevik Revolution anniversary] and criticized the authorities," Ilyin added. According to dpa, Popov's newspaper in recent months accused the Donetsk regional authorities of corruption and incompetence. JM