Oleksandr Shlapak, deputy head of President Victor Yushchenko’s office, held a press briefing on Thursday, President's press office reports.

Shlapak said Ukraine owed Russian gas monopoly Gazprom no money. “These are the debts of private companies, and all the sums that are being mentioned today and which have caused great confusion concern the relationship between these companies,” he said. “To my mind, the tone of [Gazprom’s] statement and the time when it was made show that Gazprom wants to see more than just a problem facing private companies in these payments. We regard it as a kind of political pressure on Ukraine in this difficult period of forming our country’s new government… and also as preparations for talks on gas prices for Ukraine in 2008 and Ukraine’s services provided to Gazprom.”

Shlapak said Yushchenko had warned the Cabinet, the Energy Ministry and Naftogaz about such problems in his decree. If ithad been fulfilled, the situation would be much better, he said, criticizing the government for failing to implement it.He expressed hopes Ukraine’s next Cabinet would heed Yushchenko’s proposals.


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