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NEWSPAPER REPORTS TURKMENISTAN SEEKING PRICE HIKE ON UKRAINE GAS. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov hopes to raise the sale price of Turkmen natural gas from $66 to $110-$125 per 1,000 cubic meters in the second half of 2006, the Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" reported on June 20. Troika Dialog analyst Valery Nesterov told the newspaper that if the price hike goes through, its knock-on effect could raise the price Ukraine pays for natural gas from current levels of $95 to $140-$150 per 1,000 cubic meters. In 2006, Ukraine is slated to receive 41 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas, which it purchases from the gas trader Rosukrenergo. A Rosukrenergo spokesperson told "Vedomosti," "If Turkmenistan changes the conditions of its supplies, we will inform [Ukrainian national gas company] Naftohaz Ukrayiny and we will propose corrections to the purchase price." Experts queried by the newspaper are divided, with some suggesting that Ukraine may soon face a price hike and others arguing that Russia's Gazprom will seek to avoid a repetition of the "gas war" with Ukraine that broke out in early 2006. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller recently left Ashgabat without securing an agreement on gas purchases for the second half of 2006 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 20, 2006). DK
ORANGE ALLIES SAY THEY'VE AGREED TO FORM RULING COALITION. Roman Bezsmertnyy from Our Ukraine, Oleksandr Moroz from the Socialist Party, and Yuliya Tymoshenko from the eponymous political bloc said during a session of the Verkhovna Rada on June 21 that they have agreed on establishing a ruling coalition, and pledged to sign a relevant agreement within the two following days, Channel 5 reported. Bezsmertnyy proposed to formally announce the creation of a coalition in the morning of June 23, while Moroz urged Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc to complete all formalities on June 21. On June 20, Bezsmertnyy, Tymoshenko, Moroz, and Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov met with President Viktor Yushchenko to discuss the restoration of the Orange Revolution coalition, which existed until September 2005. According to an unidentified source quoted by the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua), the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc will obtain 11 portfolios in a new cabinet, including that of prime minister, Our Ukraine eight portfolios, and the Socialist Party four portfolios. The Verkhovna Rada will reportedly be headed by Yekhanurov from Our Ukraine, while Yosyp Vinskyy from the Socialist Party is to become first deputy speaker. JM