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Naftogaz, Gazprom continue talks to restructure gas debt

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Feb. 2, 2001, 8 p.m. |
Ukraine looks to pay debt in goods, Russia wants cash-only payments Mincho'">KYIV, Feb. 2 (Ukrainian News) - Naftogaz Ukrainy is continuing talks with Russia's Gazprom on restructuring a debt owed to Russia for gas used by Ukrainian enterprises without payment, a top Naftogaz executive said Thursday.

According to Naftoaz chairman Vadym Kopylov, the two sides have not yet agreed on the exact sum of the debt subject to restructuring.

Kopylov said, however, that the sum, which is subject to restructuring has not increased from the previously stated $1.360 billion during negotiations held last year between the Ukrainian and Russian governments.

"The debt has not been increasing over this period because small contracts for payment of the debt are in force. Two-three protocols have already been signed for 10-15-20 million..." Kopylov said.

According to Kopylov, the size of the fine that Ukraine should pay and the mechanism for paying any debt, which accumulates after the restructuring of the existing debt, are still being discussed.

The Ukrainian side wants to pay part of the debt through the delivery of goods while the Russian side wants payment to be made only in cash.

Kopylov said that the two sides are presently discussing payment of 10 percent of the debt this year.

"We are today holding talks with Gazprom on how to pay this part [of the debt] in the amount of [$]150 million this year," Kopylov said.

Kopylov was unable to say when a debt restructuring agreement might be signed.

"The sum is very large; the issue is very difficult," Kopylov said.

Kopylov noted that talks are being held constantly and that a group of officials from Naftogaz Ukrainy was due to travel to Moscow on Thursday.

A tentative agreement on a 10-year debt restructuring plan was reached in Minsk in late November last year by the presidents of Ukraine and Russia, after which the two presidents directed Naftogaz and Gazprom to draft and sign the relevant document.

Kopylov told Ukrainian News in mid-December that such an agreement could be signed during the December-January period.
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