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An Armed “Investigation”

The disintegration of Ukraine continues. This morning, reports have surfaced of a raid on the state energy company, Naftogaz, by the SBU. Described by President Viktor Yushchenko as a criminal investigation into the company at the center of the gas price dispute with Russia, embattled Prime Minister and Yushchenko foe, Yulia Tymoshenko, has another interpretation: she thinks the maneuver is an attempt to destabilize the country and prevent a gas payment due this weekend to Russia. The pair have sparred recently over a new gas contract that Naftogaz signed with Russia in January, which Yushchenko has called a “defeat” for Ukraine.

“At the moment, it is clear that the building is sealed off. There are other units standing in the courtyard,” said a Naftogaz spokesman, Valentyn Zemlyansky. “It is only from news reports that we know that the SBU is conducting some sort of investigation. But how can you call this an investigation when they are carrying weapons?”

From the Reuters article:

A senior Naftogaz official told reporters the security services were searching for original copies of the new gas contract with Russia — vital to ensure payment for supplies.

“If we don’t have these contracts, then Naftogaz cannot bring the gas through customs or (secure) the transit of gas, Serhiy Davydenko, head of Naftogaz’s legal department, told reporters.

“It cannot carry out its obligations under these contracts.”

Reuters breaks down the political implications of the raid here.