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Signing Of Russian-Ukrainian Gas Deal Postponed

Gazprom's CEO Aleksei Miller (R) clinches the gas deal with the head of Naftohaz, Oleksiy Ivchenko, on 4 January (epa) 21 January 2006 -- Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Ministry says the signing of gas agreement with Russia's Gazprom has been postponed until next week.

Ministry spokeswoman Lilia Klochko said the ceremony, initially scheduled for today, would take place either on 23 January or 25 January.

Klochko gave no reason for the delay and Gazprom has not confirmed the postponement.

The Ukrainian parliament voted on 19 January to dismiss Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov and another cabinet member for their alleged role in helping to strike the controversial gas deal.

An aide to President Viktor Yushchenko said on 20 January that the vote was not legally binding.

Yushchenko has defended the gas deal, under which Ukraine agreed to pay nearly as twice as much for Russian gas as it does now.

(Unian, Interfax-Ukraina)

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