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New Ukrainian Prime Minister Explores Relations With Moscow

Yuriy Yekhanurov visited Moscow on 30 September and, in talks with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov, said that Russian business interests in Ukraine will be preserved and no privatization deals will be reversed, polit.ru reported. When discussing bilateral economic and trade relations, Yekhanurov called on Fradkov to take "practical steps" to ensure "pragmatic relations." One of the main topics for discussions was Gazprom's plan to triple the price of Russian gas from the beginning of 2006, TV-Tsentr reported on 1 October. Yekhanurov would like to find an acceptable solution and at least have a gradual raising of prices, TV-Tsentr reported.

The same day, Yekhanurov also met with President Vladimir Putin who told him that he hopes he will help Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko "consolidate Ukrainian society and overcome economic setbacks," RTR reported. Meanwhile, in an interview with the RTR talk show "Vesti nedeli" on 2 October, Yekhanurov said that "Ukraine will also continue to seek agreement with Russia on its participation in the Single Economic Space. "It is better if our relations will be free of loving words, be tougher, but realistic," he concluded. Meanwhile, according to RIA-Novosti, Putin said that he spoke with Yushchenko by phone and they agreed to open joint border checkpoints and reduce border-crossing formalities for residents of both countries.

(RFE/RL 03.x.05)

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