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UKRAINE

Bildt in bid to free Tymoshenko

Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt is to travel to Ukraine in a bid to apply "football diplomacy" to secure the release of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, according to a report by Reuters.

Bildt in bid to free Tymoshenko

Relations between the European Union and Ukraine have soured since Tymoshenko’s jailing and Sweden is to join forces with Poland in a new bid to get her free and ease tensions.

Bildt and his Polish counterpart, Radoslaw Sikorski, are to meet Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, to try to put pressure on President Viktor Yanukovich to bring about the release of his political rival, Reuters reported.

The trio are set to meet at a Champions League football match in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday.

Tymoshensko, who is a former prime minister, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October on charges of abusing her office.

She remains in custody pending appeal and maintains that the charges are a result of a political vendetta.

The EU has dismissed the trial of Tymoshenko as a having a political motive and issued warnings that Ukraine progress towards a closer partnership with the union has been put in jeopardy.

Bildt confirmed on his blog that he is to travel to Ukraine to watch the match at the new Donetsk stadium.

“But if the truth be known it is not football which is the main purpose of the trip, but to take the temperature of the political development in this important part of Ukraine,” Bildt wrote.

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RUSSIA

Gazprom appeals Swedish arbitration court’s ruling

Russian gas giant Gazprom has appealed a Swedish arbitration court ruling that ordered it to pay more than $2.5 billion to Ukraine's gas firm Naftogaz.

Gazprom appeals Swedish arbitration court's ruling
The dispute dates back several years. Photo: AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky

“On March 21st Gazprom filed a request to the Court of Appeals in the Svea District to partially annul the final arbitration ruling with Naftogaz Ukraine on the subject of deliveries” of gas, the firm said in a statement on Thursday.

It said the appeal was motivated by errors of procedure and abuses committed by the arbitrators.

Last month the Stockholm Arbitration Court ordered Gazprom to pay $2.56 billion to Naftogaz to settle all of their legal disputes and ordered the resumption of deliveries of Russian gas to Ukraine.

The two companies had demanded tens of billions of dollars from each other in a dispute over an expensive 10-year contract Ukraine signed in 2009 after Gazprom cut its deliveries in the middle of the winter.

Gazprom refused to restart deliveries as ordered at the beginning of March and had indicated it planned to appeal the ruling.

Moscow and Kiev have had a number of disputes over gas supplies in recent years, some of which led to reductions in supplies to other European countries via pipelines that transit Ukraine.

Roughly 15 percent of the gas Europe buys from Russia is transported through Ukraine.