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    Naftogaz chief denies pressured into signing gas agreements

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    The chief of Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz denied on Wednesday claims by the president's office that he had signed gas agreements with Russian energy giant Gazprom under pressure.

    KIEV, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - The chief of Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz denied on Wednesday claims by the president's office that he had signed gas agreements with Russian energy giant Gazprom under pressure.

    The statement by Oleh Dubyna, published on the government website, said that, "The company is convinced that the agreements reached during extremely complicated talks are unconditionally beneficial to Ukraine and are an optimum way out of a prolonged, artificially created confrontation that has led to a considerable deterioration of relations in the Ukraine-Russia-Europe triangle."

    "Naftogaz was surprised by claims that the company management had signed the above-mentioned documents under pressure," it also said.

    Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's energy aide recently said that Ukraine could withdraw from the deal, which he said ran counter to presidential instructions.

    "The deal between Naftogaz and Gazprom could be scrapped if it is found to have been signed under pressure," Bohdan Sokolovskiy was quoted saying by the presidential press office.

    Russia suspended supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after the former Soviet neighbors failed to reach an agreement on a new gas contract for 2009. A week later, Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to the European Union, saying Ukraine was stealing gas intended for EU consumers.

    The two countries' prime ministers, Vladimir Putin and Yulia Tymoshenko, and the chiefs of Gazprom and Naftogaz signed a deal to resume has supplies on January 19, following uneasy talks mediated by the European Union.

    A Naftogaz spokesman denied on Monday that Dubyna had undergone major heart surgery, saying instead that he had undergone an angioplasty procedure to unclog a blood vessel.

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