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Russia, Ukraine consider using rouble in gas transactions

October 19, 2011, 14:09 UTC+3

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday it would defend in courts its interests regarding the UESU debt

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ST PETERSBURG, October 19 (Itar-Tass) — Ukrainian and Russian prime ministers Nikolai Azarov and Vladimir Putin have discussed an opportunity of using roubles in its gas transactions.

“We’ve discussed an opportunity for carrying out gas transactions in roubles. This issue will be discussed by experts next week,” Azarov told a news conference.

He underlined that this position is extremely important for Ukraine as the latter transfers to Russia around 1 billion dollars per month.

 Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov stated that he had not discussed the payment of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) corporation's debt to the Russian Defence Ministry, in the course of his meeting with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

"This theme (the debt) was not discussed yesterday (on Tuesday). It dissociates with the issue of developing our bilateral relations. If we are interested in driving our relations into a corner, we may discuss this theme. If we're interested in developing our relations, I'm not going to raise this theme at my own initiative," Azarov said.

However, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday it would defend in courts its interests regarding the UESU debt. The statement was made by Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov after talks with his Ukrainian colleague Mikhail Yezhel.

"The debt certainly exists. We've been in legal action for several years and will defend our positions in courts," Serdyukov said.

On October 13, head of the main investigation department of Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) Ivan Derevyanko stated that a new criminal case has been opened against former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko for making the UESU 405.5-million-dollar debt a liability of the country's budget.

The SBU said Timoshenko had been charged within the new case on October 12.

Timoshenko headed the UESU corporation in 1995-1997. In June 2011, the ex premier stated there were no debts to the Russian Defence Ministry.

On Wednesday, Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka told reporters Yulia Timoshenko had been questioned within the new criminal case.

"The defendant was questioned in the presence of her lawyer," Pshonka said.

Her lawyers were delaying the reading of two earlier criminal cases against the prime minister: over spending of money allocated within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and on purchasing ambulances. Pre-trial investigation into the two cases has been completed, according to the prosecutor general.

On October 11, the ex premier was sentenced within the so-called "gas" case to seven years in prison, with a three-year ban on government jobs and a 189-million-dollar fine in favor of the Naftogaz Ukrainy company.

Judge Rodion Kireyev said there was evidence that the signing of the contacts between Russia's gas giant Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy - contrary to the agreements concluded by the previous Cabinet -- "took place solely due to Yulia Timoshenko's illegitimate and individual actions."

Timoshenko's lawyer Yuri Sukhov said the verdict would be appealed later this week.



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