President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters in Novograd-Volynsky on Wednesday the Ukrainian gas transportation system “belongs to Ukraine.”

Yushchenko said Naftogaz Chairman Yevhen Bakulin’s recent statement that Ukraine might exchange a stake in its gas system for a license to produce gas in the Russian Federation had “no legal grounds.”

The President said it was his prerogative to hold talks with foreign leaders and companies or authorize someone to hold such talks. “I have not given any mandate to hold these negotiations,” he said, addingthat Ukraine’s law on the gas transportation system stipulates that the country’s "gas arteries cannot be used byany company but a national, state-owned monopoly.” “There is no alternative.”


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