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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

PROSPECTS FOR EARLY UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS REMAIN UNCERTAIN. There have been mixed signals in Ukraine regarding the work of the anticrisis working group set up after last week's agreement between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to hold early parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 7, 2007), RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on May 9. Presidential Secretariat deputy head Ivan Vasyunyk said on May 8 that the working group has agreed on a draft parliamentary resolution to hold early elections, and decided to create a commission to prepare amendments to the constitution. Meanwhile, Our Ukraine leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko said the same day that the Socialist Party and Communist Party have taken a "destructive" position and are blocking talks on the preparations for new elections. Both parties consider President Yushchenko's decrees on the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada illegal and reportedly want a change in the constitution that could allow the legislature to dissolve itself. There is also no agreement between Yushchenko and the ruling coalition on the date of early polls. Yushchenko reportedly wants to hold snap elections "as soon as possible," while the ruling coalition proposes holding them in the fall. JM

BLAST DAMAGES RUSSIA-EU GAS PIPELINE IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry said on May 7 that an explosion earlier the same day destroyed a 30-meter section of the Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhhorod pipeline transporting Russian gas across Ukraine to Europe, Ukrainian and international media reported. The cause of the explosion, which occurred near the village of Luka in Kyiv Oblast, has yet to be determined. The damaged pipeline is one of three main pipelines carrying Russian natural gas via Ukraine to the European market, with an estimated capacity of 1 million cubic meters per day. According to the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry, supplies through the line were interrupted, but the ministry activated a bypass pipeline to continue transporting natural gas. Officials in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania have reported normal gas flows following the accident in Ukraine. The European Commission called on Ukraine on May 8 to upgrade its pipelines. "A similar accident occurred in the same section of the same pipeline in 2001.... The Commission considered that additional proof that Ukrainian networks -- or at least part of the network of pipelines supplying gas to the European Union -- need to be overhauled," Reuters quoted Ferran Tarradellas Espuny, a spokesman for Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, as saying. JM