Last week the offices of Naftohaz Ukrainy were raided by Ukraine's security services [SBU]. They were accompanied by masked and armed Alpha special services troops - normally used only in anti-terrorist operations.
The raid was part of an evidence gathering operation in a dispute between RosUkrEnerho and Naftohaz over the ownership of 11 Bn.c.m. of natural gas stored in Ukraine. Observers consider the tug-of-war over this gas to be a battle between president Yushchenko and PM Yulia Tymoshenko.
The Swiss-registered gas middleman RUE is 50%-owned by Russia's Gazprom and 50%-owned by two Ukrainian businessmen - Firtash and Fursin.
Today President Putin of Russia said attempts by Ukraine's power structures to renege on the original gas agreement with RF discredit Ukraine and make it necessary to think about the alternative routes of gas supply into Europe.
Speaking of the raid he said: "It is clear that this discredits the [Ukrainian] state and makes it necessary to think about alternative ways of delivering gas to Europe...People in masks with automatic weapons attempted to remove contracts at the state energy company [offices]. This only discredits the country and makes people think."
Bearing in mind Putin's alleged closeness Gazprom, who are 50% owners of RUE, and his active participation in settling the last gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, these statements knock the legs away from under president Yushchenko, the SBU, and in particular Firtash and Fursin. If the latter two feel cheated then they should take their partners in RUE, Gazprom, to court for cutting them out of the gas agreements, not Naftohaz.
Last Friday, on television [see previous blogs] president Yushchenko and his cronies had wailed about how the commandeering of private property, i.e. gas, by the state could be the first step on the slippery slope to fascism, drawing parallels with 1917, and the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Was anyone listening to this nonsense?