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UKRAINIAN PREMIER WANTS FIVE REGIONAL GOVERNORS TO BE SACKED... Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on September 28 demanded that President Viktor Yushchenko fire five regional governors for what the government sees as their unsatisfactory performance in resolving socioeconomic problems, Ukrainian media reported. The demand concerns the governors of Poltava, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Chernihiv oblasts, who are from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc. "The dismissal of the heads of oblast state administrations cannot be considered by the Cabinet of Ministers, since this [issue] is outside the government's competence," Our Ukraine said in a statement later the same day. "Political motives behind such actions are obvious: The [five] governors are being accused of 'unsatisfactory solutions to problems that hamper social and economic development' while it is generally known that the highest debts arising from overdue wages are in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, but the government remains silent on the leaders of these regions," Our Ukraine added. Under the Ukrainian Constitution, all regional governors are appointed by the president. JM

...AND HOPES TO GET RUSSIAN GAS AT PRICE LOWER THAN NEIGHBORS. Prime Minister Yanukovych said at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv on September 28 that Ukraine will be receiving gas from Russia until 2010 at a price lower than that charged on other neighboring countries, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "The price of gas will be lower than that asked of our neighbors," Yanukovych said. "If it is $130 per 1,000 cubic meters, it will be top class for us," he added. Meanwhile, Gazprom said in a press statement on September 27 that RosUkrEnergo, which monopolizes gas supplies to Ukraine, will deliver gas to Ukraine in the fourth quarters of 2006 at the current price of $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. The statement appeared after talks held between Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko in Moscow earlier the same day. The statement says that a contract for gas supplies to Ukraine in 2007-09 will be drafted by the end of this year. JM

UKRAINIAN MINISTER REBUKES MOSCOW OVER LANGUAGE-DISCRIMINATION CHARGE. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk told journalists in Kyiv on September 28 that Moscow's recent charge that Russian is discriminated against in Ukraine constitutes "evident interference" in Ukraine's internal affairs, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "Regretfully, we have to highlight that raising the topic [of Russian in Ukraine] is not beneficial to Ukrainian-Russian relations," Tarasyuk added. "Oppressors of the Russian language in Ukraine should understand the necessity to finally realize that bilingual Ukraine is a historic phenomenon, and that is why it is counterproductive to eradicate the Russian language," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on September 27. JM