Former Minister of Regional Development and Construction Vasyl Kuybida testified today in the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko and confirmed the experience of her directives for gas contract talks given the critical situation in Ukraine at the time.

"In that situation it wasn’t just a business issue, it was also political. And I understand that in that situation it made sense giving those directives because the political situation was very difficult. Economic too, because we could have had an Alchevsk type disaster in our country," Vasyl Kuybida said today in court, according to the official website of Yulia Tymoshenko.

The ex-minister emphasized that during the case crisis, European countries demand that Ukraine provide uninterrupted transit of gas, despite the fact that the reason for the crisis was the position of the Russian side. "Then vice premier for international issues Nemyria informed us of those calls and conversations in which pressure was put on Ukraine, and Ukraine was accused of being the cause of non-delivery of gas to European countries," he added.

He is the latest of several witnesses to highlight the critical situation at the start of 2009. Former Minister of Fuel and Energy Yuriy Prodan refuted claims by other witnesses that there was no need to sign the gas contracts. "With every day the conditions of gas supply worsened. Ukraine’s gas transport system had never worked in reverse mode. This was a very difficult situation," he said.

Meanwhile, former advisor to the head of Naftohaz Andriy Koval confirmed that during the gas crisis Ukraine’s gas transport system was forced to work in reverse mode for nearly two weeks, threatening its viability. "Ukrtranshaz turned the gas on in reverse and for the first time gas was flowing not from east to west, but from west to east. It was extremely difficult to keep the system operating because this was not a standard situation and there could have been technical failure at any time," he said.

A similar statement was made by former First Vice Premier Oleksandr Turchynov: "Whoever says that we could have continued negotiations for several more months is either lying of doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The gas transport system could have not survived. It was down to hours," he said during questioning, adding that what Yulia Tymoshenko did "saved the country."

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