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Nord Stream project may be behind gas crisis - Yushchenko

KYIV. Jan 13 (Interfax) - Russia's desire to persuade European consumers of its gas of the need to develop the northern gas route to Europe bypassing Ukraine might be among the reasons behind the ongoing gas crisis, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko suggested.

"It has just happened that the European community has become a hostage to these relations. I do not rule out that one of the purposes of this campaign was to revive quite an unpromising Nord Stream gas pipeline project and show that the current system needs for an alternative," Yushchenko said at a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday.

"I also do not rule out - and some comments from Russia confirm this - that these events might have been prompted by the desire to change the ideology of the (Ukrainian) gas transportation system's management, operation, and ownership," he said.

The dispute could have also been initiated "to disturb the internal political situation in the country and politically agitate the regions that are very sensitive to Ukrainian-Russian relations" to undermine the people's hope for the authorities' ability to resolve such problems, he said.

"I would like to firmly emphasize that Ukraine is not the author of this conflict. At the level of its gas transportation company, Ukraine has honored all conditions envisioned by the contract to the last clause and to the last letter," he said.