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Gazprom is ready to write off nearly $280 million owed to it by the UES power grid of Ukraine for Russian gas deliveries in 1996-1997
Russia's oil and gas giant Gazprom is ready to write off nearly $280 million owed to it by the Unified Energy Systems (UES) power grid of Ukraine for Russian gas deliveries in 1996-1997. UES was then headed by Yulia Timoshenko, who is Ukrainian Prime Minister now. Experts perceive this as a forced measure because Gazprom has no chance of getting its money back, the newspaper Gazeta reported. The UES of Ukraine became a major Russian gas importer under Ms. Timoshenko. Moreover, this company and Gazprom used to implement mutual payments and settlements during the transportation of Russian gas via Ukraine. Timoshenko had served as UES president for two years, when UES incurred its debt to Gazprom. Deputy Gazprom Board Chairman Alexander Ryazanov said February 7 that UES debts could be written off. According to some sources, the Ukrainian company owes this sum for gas deliveries. The UES' debts to Gazprom could have surfaced during the investigation of a fraud involving the Russian Defense Ministry's funds. In 1996 Gazprom, the governments of Russia and Ukraine, as well as UES, had signed an agreement on offsetting mutual debts. Acting within that document's framework, Gazprom had borrowed $450 million, subsequently transferring that sum to the Russian Defense Ministry. The latter then deposited it on United Energy International accounts as payment for construction-materials deliveries. (United Energy International is a UES affiliate) However, the Russian military never received those construction materials. In 2001, a court ordered UES to repay the money, after examining a Defense Ministry lawsuit. Former Gazprom chief executive officer Rem Vyakhirev, who liked the Ukrainian "gas princess", could have disregarded her company's $200-million debt. However, Vyakhirev's successor Alexei Miller had no such intention. The Russian concern has zero chances of getting its money back now that Timoshenko has become Prime Minister. Gazprom, which is merely stating the facts, has few alternative options, analysts say.
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