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RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER AGAIN CHANGES TACK ON CFE TREATY. Speaking on 31 May at a meeting in Baku of defense ministers of CIS member states, Sergei Ivanov proposed that signatories to the revised Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) should abide by that amended treaty beginning in October 2006 even if they have not ratified it, ITAR-TASS reported. In January, Ivanov raised the possibility that Russia might cease to observe the so-called "flank limitations" enshrined in the amended treaty if other signatories fail to ratify it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 25, 2006). To date, only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have ratified the amended treaty; the U.S. has pegged ratification to Russia's complete withdrawal of its military presence in Georgia and the breakaway Transdniester Republic. Ivanov accused the United States of "double standards" in its approach to deploying troops in Europe, noting that Washington recently signed an agreement on establishing a base in Bulgaria, but still continues to insist on the withdrawal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Transdniester. LF

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT TO DOUBLE CONSUMER GAS PRICES AS OF JULY. Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers has decided to increase the gas price for individual consumers to 414 hryvnyas ($82) per 1,000 cubic meters as of July 1, up from an average of 220 hryvnyas at present, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( reported, quoting Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov. "The decision in principle has been made, while the differentiation of tariffs is yet to be discussed by us," Plachkou added. This year the government already raised gas tariffs for the population and corporate consumers by 25 percent as of May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 30, 2006). A gas supply deal between the Ukrainian government and Russia's Gazprom in January increased the gas price for Ukraine from $50 to $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. Gazprom officials have indicated that this price may be revised upward as of July. JM