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RUSSIA POSTPONES JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES WITH U.S... . Russia officially informed the United States on September 5 that it has postponed the third installment of the joint maneuvers known as Torgau, which were slated for late September and early October, allegedly due to unresolved legal issues regarding the presence of foreign soldiers on Russian territory, Russian and international media reported. Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Kostyshin said that all foreign military personnel and not just those from the United States or other NATO countries are affected. He added that the maneuvers will be rescheduled only when the issues are resolved. Several Russian commentators noted that the real reason is probably political, reflecting the cool state of bilateral relations. Others noted that the Russian official media paid much gleeful attention to the anti-American and anti-NATO protests in the Ukrainian port city of Feodosia earlier in the year. Those commentators suggested that it would now be politically awkward for the Russian authorities themselves to play host to U.S. troops. Nine Russian regions will hold their respective elections on October 8, while national parliamentary elections are slated for 2007. PM
RUSSIA AGREES TO HIGHER PRICE FOR TURKMEN GAS. Aleksei Miller, head of Russia's state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov signed an agreement in Ashgabat on September 5 raising the purchase price of Turkmen gas for Russia from $65 to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters starting October 1, turkmenistan.ru reported. Russia will buy 12 billion cubic meters of gas in the fourth quarter of 2006 at the new price and then 50 billion cubic meters a year in 2007-09, after which the price terms will be reviewed, NewsCentralAsia reported. Gazprom's purchases at the old price of $65 will total 30 billion cubic meters in 2006. Stressing that Turkmenistan has sufficient gas reserves to cover all its export commitments, Niyazov noted, "We will always give first priority to Russia." The deal has implications for Ukraine, which purchases a mixture of Turkmen and Russian gas through Swiss-registered middleman RosUkrEnergo for $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. The new agreement would likely raise the price Ukraine pays to $140 per 1,000 cubic meters, ITAR-TASS reported. Alfa Bank analyst Chris Weafer told AP that "it's obvious that the price to Ukraine is going to go up." He continued, "It's an important deal for Gazprom, because it now gives them complete leverage over Ukraine in price negotiations." DK
UKRAINIAN MINISTER ALLAYS FEARS OVER GAZPROM'S GAS DEAL WITH TURKMENISTAN. Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said on September 5 that neither the price of imported gas nor the gas tariffs in Ukraine will go up this year, in the wake of a deal concluded by Gazprom and Turkmenistan earlier the same day, Ukrainian media reported. Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller signed a deal in Ashgabat, whereby Gazprom will buy 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Turkmenistan in 2007-09 plus an additional 12 billion cubic meters this year at a price of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from the $65 currently paid by Gazprom. Boyko said this Russian-Turkmen deal is expected to affect the price of gas imported by Ukraine in 2007, but added that he sees no reason for any sharp increase. Ukraine currently pays $95 per 1,000 cubic meters of a Russian-Turkmen gas mix. JM
FOUR UKRAINIAN PARTIES WORK TO EXPAND COALITION. The Party of Regions (PRU), the Socialist Party (SPU), the Communist Party (KPU), and Our Ukraine have set up a working group to prepare an agreement on an expanded ruling coalition, Ukrainian media reported on September 5, quoting KPU leader Petro Symonenko. The current cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was formed on the basis of an "anticrisis coalition" accord concluded in July by the PRU, the SPU, and the KPU, and of a declaration of unity signed by these parties, Our Ukraine, and President Viktor Yushchenko on August 3. Our Ukraine, although it has several ministers in the cabinet, is not a signatory to that coalition accord. JM
UKRAINIAN SPEAKER URGES CONCLUSION OF GONGADZE CASE. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz said in a television interview on September 5 that it is "shameful" and "humiliating" for the Ukrainian authorities to delay decisions in the case of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, who was killed in September 2000, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. "This issue is raised by people asking representatives of the authorities, including myself, about how long this farce will continue," Moroz said. "Six years have passed since the man [Gongadze] was killed, everybody knows where the problem is." It was Moroz who in November 2000 publicized recordings allegedly made by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko in then-President Leonid Kuchma's office, which suggested that Kuchma and other high-ranking officials might have been implicated in the slaying of Gongadze. "We should give a legal assessment of everyone involved in this crime, and the point here is not in settling scores," Moroz noted. Three former officers of the Interior Ministry are currently standing trial on charges of murdering Gongadze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 9, 2006). JM