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UKRAINE VOWS TO PAY OFF GAS DEBT BY MID-OCTOBER. Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said in a television interview on August 21 that the state-run company Naftohaz Ukrayiny will repay by mid-October all it owns to the Swiss-based intermediary RosUkrEnergo for gas supplies to Ukraine this year, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Last week, Naftohaz Ukrayiny paid nearly $50 million of its $372 million gas debt to RosUkrEnergo. Boyko also pledged to repay "in the near future" Ukraine's gas debt to Turkmenistan, but failed to mention the sum involved. Boyko is to go to Moscow on August 22 for talks with Gazprom on gas supplies to Ukraine in 2007. In a press interview published on August 21, Boyko ruled out the possibility that Ukraine could cede control over its gas-transportation system to Russia in return for a preferential gas price in 2007. "Why should we rent anything as a concession? A key problem of Ukraine's gas-transport system is lack of financing. There are no other problems -- it is working to full capacity, the staff are well-qualified. We are able to manage it ourselves," Boyko noted. JM
UKRAINIAN VILLAGERS DEMAND COMPENSATION FOR BLAST. Some 500 inhabitants of the village of Novobohdanivka in Zaporizhzhya Oblast have addressed local authorities with an appeal to give them the status of war veterans, declare their village a zone of environmental disaster, and pay them compensation for material and moral damages they suffered in recent years because of blasts at a local artillery-ammunition depot, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported on August 22. Because of fires at the depot, the ill-fated village was shelled in May 2004, July 2005, and last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 21, 2006). Five people were killed and a dozen injured in those incidents. JM