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U.S., POLAND CRITICIZE RUSSO-GERMAN PIPELINE PROJECT. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza was quoted by the "Financial Times" on October 30 as saying that the projected Russo-German North European Gas Pipeline (NEGP) will increase European dependency on Russian gas supplies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 24, and October 20 and 24, 2006). He argued that "the project simply raises the question [as to] what diversification means when it comes to gas supply. If you live in Germany, you do not want to go through what happened last winter with Ukraine [when Russia cut off gas supplies]." He added that the NEGP weakens European solidarity by bringing Germany together with Russia without the participation of Poland and the Baltic states. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is scheduled to discuss energy and other issues with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on October 30, Deutsche Welle reported. Prior to his visit, Kaczynski told Germany's mass-circulation daily "Bild" that "Poland must not get into a situation in which neighboring states exert pressure on us with the lever of energy. We will not accept that." PM
BELARUSIAN MINISTER DENIES STUDENTS EXPELLED ON POLITICAL GROUNDS. Education Minister Alyaksandr Radzkou said in the Chamber of Representatives, Belarus's lower house, on October 27 that not a single student has been expelled from the country's institutions of higher learning for political reasons, Belapan reported. Radzkou noted that the main reason for the expulsion of students is usually their academic failure. Speaking in the Chamber of Representatives a year ago, Radzkou admitted that he had issued a political directive authorizing the rectors of state-run universities to expel students who participate in political demonstrations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 4, 2005). Some 300 Belarusian students are now reportedly studying abroad, mainly in Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine, because of their expulsion following the March presidential election and opposition protests against the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. JM
UKRAINIAN POLICE FOIL ATTACK ON LOCAL MARKETPLACE. Special police forces in Dnipropetrovsk on October 30 arrested some 90 people out of the 150 who, armed with firecrackers and pneumatic weapons, unsuccessfully attempted to seize the city's central marketplace called Ozerka earlier the same day, UNIAN reported. In 2004, control over Ozerka was taken over by a private firm in a tender that many potential local buyers decried as dishonest. In September 2006, the tender was cancelled by a court decision. The identity of the attackers has not yet been established. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PUSHES AT EU SUMMIT FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Viktor Yushchenko said at an EU summit in Helsinki on October 27 that Ukraine aims at enhancing its current level of cooperation with the EU to a "level of political association and economic integration," Reuters reported. Yushchenko was speaking at a news conference following talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, who represented the EU Presidency. However, Barroso responded that a free-trade accord between the EU and Ukraine is the primary goal and ruled out talks of EU membership. "Ukraine still has reforms to do, let's be honest about it, and today in the European Union we are not ready, our member states are not ready, to assume new membership obligations," Barroso said. The two sides initialed a deal to make it easier for Ukrainian journalists, students, and businessmen to obtain EU visas, and another on readmission of illegal migrants. Yushchenko reportedly assured the EU that the supplies of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine will be uninterrupted this coming winter. Barroso welcomed a gas deal reached between Ukraine and Russia last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 25, 2006), saying that Brussels does not anticipate "any problems, at least for this year." JM
UKRAINIAN ENERGY OFFICIAL GIVES MORE DETAILS OF 2007 GAS DEAL. The Swiss-based RosUkrEnergo, which holds a monopoly on gas supplies to Ukraine, will deliver up to 62 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine in 2007 under a contract made public last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 25, 26, and 27, 2006), Interfax-Ukraine reported on October 27, quoting Ihor Voronin, head of UkrGazEnergo, a joint venture created by RosUkrEnergo and Ukraine's Naftohaz. "The key provisions in the addendum to the contract envision the supply of up to 62 billion cubic meters of gas in 2007 at a price of $130 [per 1,000 cubic meters] with a minimum guaranteed amount of 55 billion cubic meters. These supplies will not be accompanied by any other additional conditions," Voronin said. According to Voronin, the addendum stipulates that the price of $130 with regard to the minimum contracted amount of 55 billion cubic meters will remain unchanged irrespective of "what happens in the Central Asian gas market" from where Ukraine is to receive imported gas in 2007. "We managed to avoid the mistakes that were made, for example, in 2006, when Turkmengaz unilaterally stopped fulfilling its contract and Naftohaz Ukrayiny was left without 40 billion cubic meters of gas that was stipulated in the contract," Voronin added. JM