Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Putin takes Naftohaz's side in gas dispute

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?


elmer said...

Pootler's stance is indeed interesting.

And all he has to do is continue to watch the "Ukrainian political elite" try to kill each other off, and Ukraine will land right in his lap.

Mentadent (Khoroshkovsky), by the way, one of the architects of the Gestapo/KGB raid on Naftohaz, and an ally of Firtash, got his comeuppance, it seems.

He was searched at the Boryspil airport, it seems. Very thoroughly.

He was outraged enough to go whining to Ukrainian Pravda about it.

I like the comments underneath the article, especially the one about him filling his trousers with something from fear.

Some people were wondering what he was trying to smuggle in, and how long it had been since he had pulled some "veeskee" on the plane. Also the comment about "one law for all."

Apparently Mentadent plans to have a press-conference to whine about this some more.

Anonymous said...

Of course Putin came down on Natftogaz's side. He supports Tymoschenko completely and can't wait to get rid of Yushchenko. What's he doing commenting on the matter anyhow? What business is it of his? What if Yushchenko started commenting on Russia's internal affairs and saying which of their agencies acted correctly. In any it's all a bit rich coming from the man whose own country is ranked even lower for corruption than Ukraine and who put one oligarch in jail in a complete perversion of justice. Besides the complaint officially is not cutting RUE out but the state commandering RUE's gas. Why didn't the state go to court to prove their case if they had one?

Gene said...

It is important that Putin comment on this. It was his agreement with Yulia and Ukraine, so this should eliminate the grounds for any lawsuit against Naftgaz.

I have lost all confidence in Yushenko, but never did I think he would stoop so low to send armed, masked Alpha troops to invade corporate offices to protect the interests of Firtash.

However, it goes to show that perhaps Putin was correct when he indicated RUE was a cash cow for both Firtash and Yush.