Yuriy Boyko, the leader of the Republican Party of Ukraine and former head of state oil and gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny, has said that there are no grounds for problems with Russia's Gazprom over gas supplies and blamed recent disputes on Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko.

Speaking during a studio interview on UT1's In Focus programme, Boyko said, "The only reason for the conflict with Russia and the worsening situation with gas is the position of the prime minister who is taking a firm position towards Russia in order to pursue her personal business interests involving the corporation United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) and its debts to the Russian Defence Ministry."

Boyko said that UESU, a gas trading firm run by Tymoshenko in the 1990s, owed 408m dollars to the Russian Defence Ministry. He said that in February 2004, the Russian government held a special meeting to decide what to do about this debt.

Boyko also dismissed allegations by Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, that non-transparent contracts with intermediary companies for transit of Turkmen gas signed by Naftohaz under his leadership had cost the budget 1bn dollars.

"Speaking of [transit operators] Eural Trans Gas and RosUkrEnergo, their task was to deliver gas to Ukraine via Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia, and they fulfilled this task," he said. "We received the gas on time and it was the cheapest."

Boyko insisted that all mutual obligations between Ukraine and Russia were being fulfilled. "As regards Russia, the situation with the gas balance is completely transparent," he said.

Boyko said that the biggest threat to Ukraine's gas supplies this winter comes not from Russia but from Turkmenistan. He said that Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow's accusations in June that Ukraine was cheating on its barter payments for gas deliveries in the first half of 2005 should be a warning for "all society".

"We received gas from Turkmenistan and did not deliver any goods, and now it is necessary to settle the goods deliveries," he said. "Otherwise at the end of September, beginning of October there were will be more harsh statements from Turkmenistan and very tough negotiations on prices for next year."


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