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PUTIN WARNS OUTSIDERS ABOUT UKRAINE. President Vladimir Putin told journalists from countries belonging to the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries in Moscow on July 13 that outsiders should not attempt to engage in power politics in Ukraine, Russian television reported. He said that "you can't bet on any particular force [in Ukraine], painting it in a pro-Western color. I'm telling you again, there are neither pro-Western, nor pro-Russian forces [in Ukraine]. All of them are pro-Ukrainian, first and foremost. And this should be understood, just as our interests there should be respected, because almost 17 million ethnic Russians live there, and almost every second family in Ukraine has ties with the Russian Federation." On July 14 Putin said that the growing conflict in the Middle East should "stop immediately," Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," July 12 and 13, 2006). PM

GAZPROM EXPANDS ROLE IN HUNGARY VIA GERMANY. The German utility E.ON Ruhrgas has concluded an agreement to transfer subsidiary stock in Hungary to Gazprom in exchange for its own 25-percent share in the giant Yuzhno-Russkoye oil and gas field, Britain's "Financial Times" reported on July 14. Gas from that field will reach Germany via the planned North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP). The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" commented on April 28 that Russia offers German businesses the "spectacular growth opportunities" that they increasingly lack at home. The same daily noted on July 14 that President Putin told Germany's ZDF television recently that it is in Germany's interest to have that direct pipeline connection to Russia, whereas it plays into American hands for Germans and other Europeans to be dependent on pipelines that pass through Ukraine, Belarus, or Poland. For its part, Hungary has conducted an ambiguous policy toward Gazprom. Early this year, Budapest called on Europeans to diversify their sources of energy supplies, but later it signed important agreements with Gazprom (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 1, April 28, June 22, and July 13 2006). Commenting on the E.ON-Gazprom deal, Hungary's Economy and Transport Minister Janos Koka said that the government "cannot interfere with a transaction between two private companies," the "Financial Times" reported on July 14. PM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WARNS DEPUTIES ABOUT BEHAVIOR IN PARLIAMENT. Addressing the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on July 13, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko urged its members to abide by the principles of European parliamentary culture, warning that otherwise they would "cast doubt on their legitimacy and I would have to act appropriately," Interfax reported the same day. The announcement on July 11 of the formation of a new coalition capable of forming a parliamentary majority prompted scuffles in the chamber (see "RFE/RL Newsline," July 11, 2006). Yushchenko again indicated that he believes the new coalition formed by the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party is unconstitutional (see "RFE/RL Newsline," July 13, 2006). Yushchenko told the Verkhovna Rada that "the withdrawal of some deputies from the coalition of democratic forces, which resulted in its disintegration, is inconsistent with the Constitution and the procedures of the Verkhovna Rada." The "anti-crisis" coalition was formed when the Socialist Party withdrew from a coalition with its Orange Revolution allies, Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc. Yushchenko called on lawmakers to settle the coalition issue legally, nominate a prime minister, and not make "hasty decisions." AM

OUR UKRAINE ACCUSES "ANTI-CRISIS" COALITION OF ACTING ON SCRIPT WRITTEN ABROAD... The Our Ukraine bloc in the Verkhovna Rada issued a statement on July 13 claiming that the formation of the "anti-crisis" coalition followed a scenario scripted from abroad, presumably implying Russia. "Our impression is that the authors of these scenarios are seeking to destabilize Ukraine, that they need a cheap show ahead of the G8 summit," the statement reads. The leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized states is being held in St. Petersburg, Russia on July 15-17. Tarasyuk said that Our Ukraine views foreign involvement as an attempt to interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs. He added that Our Ukraine will take whatever steps are needed to thwart similar scenarios being enacted, but he provided no further details. AM

...AND DENIES IT MAY JOIN THE COALITION. Tetyana Mokridi, a member of parliament for Our Ukraine, denied on July 13 that Our Ukraine is holding talks with the Party of Regions about the possibility of broadening the "anti-crisis" coalition, Interfax reported. Mokridi said Our Ukraine leaders have decided not to enter the coalition, adding that that decision has been approved by the party's members of parliament. AM