MOSCOW, October 19 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian and Ukrainian Presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yanukovich, met at the 2nd Russian-Ukrainian regional economic forum in Donetsk on Tuesday. No documents on the "gas issue" were signed. But it was not possible for the two leaders to avoid the issue of the verdict for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.
No accords on the gas prices were reached at the Russian-Ukrainian regional economic forum in Donetsk on Tuesday, the "Novye Izvestia" writes. Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Yanukovich only confirmed that a new contract was under discussion. But the Ukrainian president had to explain the cancellation of his visit to Brussels by the European Union, while Medvedev had to express his attitude toward the verdict handed down for Yulia Timoshenko.
Viktor Yanukovich heard bad news in Donetsk: the European Union had cancelled his visit to Brussels scheduled for October 20, the newspaper underlines. This is a consequence of Yanukovich's statement, which made it clear he had no intention to intervene for the sake of overturning the verdict for Yulia Timoshenko. The Ukrainian president tried not to show that he was upset.
They did not sign anything on natural gas supply or gas prices. Although Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov earlier stated that the Donetsk negotiations would be crucial in the issue, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller refused to elaborate on the progress made at the talks over the new price of Russian natural gas.
The presidents of Russia and Ukraine met for the first time after a verdict was passed for Yulia Timoshenko, at which both Moscow and Brussels were indignant, the "Kommersant" writes. Moscow made it clear in advance that nobody would be making important decisions at the forum. The current level of bilateral relations does not contribute to it, as the two countries are again locked in controversy over the price of Russian gas.
When Dmitry Medvedev's plane was halfway to Ukraine, news from Europe cheered up the Russian negotiators. The EU announced it had postponed Viktor Yanukovich's visit to Brussels. The punishment followed a verdict for Yulia Timoshenko, sentenced to seven years in jail last week for signing a controversial gas contract with Russia in 2009.
The Russian negotiators visibly cheered up anticipating the prospects opened by the latest spat between Kiev and Brussels. "Yanukovich will not let Timoshenko free," a Russian diplomat predicted, "while the EU would not give up its principles. Consequently, Yanukovich will have to turn to Russia." He probably implied Kiev's joining the Customs Union, to which President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have been inviting Kiev.
The "Komsomolskaya Pravda” cites Dmitry Medvedev who commented Yulia Timoshenko’s verdict thus: “I would like justice to be fully based on Ukrainian legislation, so that verdicts have no political or anti-Russian dimension. So that international commitments are not put to doubt. Such is my attitude to this process, with the understanding that it is Ukraine’s internal affair.