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...AS RUSSIAN OIL BOSS SAYS ENERGY SUPPLIES TO EUROPE ARE 'RELIABLE.' Yelena Telegina, who is a member of the board of the Association of Russian Crude Oil Exporters and former board chairwoman of Rosneft, told RFE/RL in Prague on October 23 that Russia will remain a reliable energy supplier to Europe. She argued that Europe needs Russian energy and hopes that "the interests of businesses and the interests of consumers will prevail over political disagreements." She said that the Ukrainian gas crisis at the start of 2006 shows the need for "relations between Russia and former Soviet countries [to be] regulated." Telegina argued that "low energy prices between former Soviet countries...helped these republics get back on their feet [after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and] develop their national economies. Russian citizens paid the price for these former Soviet republics to be able to develop independently." Asked whether Gazprom has enough gas to meet its commitments at home and abroad, she replied that "this is a serious problem. It was discussed last week by the government and [President Putin]. It is indeed a very acute problem for Russia, because we need more gas to produce electricity, and we have many exports contracts with Western Europe that we must respect. The decision was taken to develop exports and supply the Russian market with alternative energy resources, such as atomic energy and coal. So from the point of view of energy security, Europe need not worry. Russia is ready to fulfill its obligations." PM

WILL OUR UKRAINE RETURN TO COALITION TALKS? Justice Minister Roman Zvarych from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc said on October 23 that President Viktor Yuschenko's speech at the Our Ukraine People's Union party congress last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 23, 2006) made him believe that the bloc might decide to resume its talks on forming a ruling coalition with the Party of Regions, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party, Ukrainian media reported. "From what I heard [from the president], I realized that he doesn't rule out the possibility to find points of mutual understanding with the political forces of the 'anticrisis coalition.' Consequently, I think these decisions might occur this week," Zvarych said. On the other hand, Raisa Bohatyryova from the Party of Regions told journalists the same day that the ongoing "process of crystallization and purification of [Our Ukraine's] political platform" may lead to renewed coalition talks between Our Ukraine and the ruling parties. "We may be seeing the beginning of a new political plan of the Ukrainian president aimed at finding a stable competitive force rather than an opposition," Bohatyryova added. The Our Ukraine People's Union is expected next month to hold a second round of its last week's congress to elect new leaders and revise its statute. JM