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RUSSIA SLAMS U.S. OFFICIAL'S PIPELINE COMMENTS. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on November 2 that it has "taken note of the interview U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza gave to the 'Financial Times Deutschland' on October 30, in which he threatens German readers over the prospect of the construction of the North European Gas Pipeline (NEPG)," reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 24 and 30, 2006). The ministry added that "supposedly the NEPG would deepen Germany's dependence on Russian gas and 'if you live in Germany, you do not want to go through what happened last winter with Ukraine.' We shall not speak of how correct it is for a U.S. official to take upon himself the responsibility of explaining to Germany how it should build its cooperation with Russia in such an important field as gas supplies." The ministry argued that "unfortunately, one gets the impression that what really stands behind the United States' [NEPG] is not its concern about the energy security of Europe, but the principle being professed by certain American officials that good gas pipelines are only those bypassing Russia." It was a central objective of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War to wean Western Europe in general and West Germany in particular away from the United States and develop close economic and political links with them. PM

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS DEMAND REPORTS FROM FOREIGN, DEFENSE MINISTERS... The Verkhovna Rada on November 3 passed a resolution demanding that Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk and Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko deliver reports on November 15 on their performance, Ukrainian media reported. Tarasyuk and Hrytsenko were appointed to their posts in the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych by President Viktor Yushchenko. Lawmaker Yevhen Kushnyarov from the Party of Regions told journalists that Tarasyuk and Hrytsenko may be sacked on November 15, suggesting that the two ministers form "a fifth column" in the cabinet and do not implement the policies of the ruling coalition led by the Party of Regions. On November 2, Yanukovych said Tarasyuk cannot continue to work in his cabinet because of his "being in opposition" to it. JM

...AND MOVE CLOSER TO WTO MEMBERSHIP. The Verkhovna Rada on November 2 passed a package of seven bills paving the way for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ukrainian media reported. The package, which was supported by no fewer than 390 deputies from all caucuses apart from the Communist Party, included bills on banking and foreign investment. Presidential aide Arseniy Yatsenyuk predicted that the legislature will also endorse the remaining 15 WTO-related bills "in the same constructive atmosphere." JM

UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SHRUGS OFF SUSPENSION VOTE. Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said in a television interview on November 2 that the parliamentary vote earlier the same day recommending that Prime Minister Yanukovych suspend him for two months (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 2, 2006) will have no consequences, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( reported. According to Lutsenko, Ukraine's legislation does not provide for suspension of a cabinet minister. "They [lawmakers] can sack me but cannot suspend me. If my opponents want to obey the law, they will have to submit a motion to dismiss me and to pass it. But as long as such an act is nonexistent, I will work as a full-fledged minister," Lutsenko said. "From a political point of view, [the suspension vote] was an act of revenge from those who cannot sleep peacefully at night because of their pricks of conscience and problems with the law," he added. JM