Masked men break into Ukraine's national natural gas company office

NaftogazKiev - Masked men believed to be government agents broke into the headquarters of Ukraine national natural gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy on Wednesday and are searching the premises, witnesses said.

The men were armed and wore camouflage uniforms commonly used by Ukrainian special force police and military units.

The assault teams were moving through Naftogaz offices, the witnesses said.

The entire senior board of Naftogaz had been placed under arrest, according to an unconfirmed Interfax report.

Ukraine parliament sacks anti-Russia Foreign Minister

ukraine mapKiev - Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday sacked Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko, a long-time Kremlin critic.

A total 250 MPs in the 450-seat house supported a motion to kick Ohyrzko out of the country's top diplomatic job.

Deputies from the pro-Russia Regions Ukraine party and the populist Block of Yulia Tymoshenko - traditional political opponents - joined to form the majority.

Ohryzko is a career diplomat holding the foreign minister post since late 2007.

Ukraine insists on four Euro 2012 venues

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko Kiev  - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday said his country would contribute all four planned venues for the Euro 2012 competition, despite severe financial problems.

Yushchenko speaking to reporters in Kiev rejected a Polish media suggestion that six of the eight venues for the tournament be in Poland, and that Ukraine's host share be reduced from four to two sites.

"We have all indications that we can guarantee a normal preparation process (for Euro 2012)," Yushchenko said.

Protesting Ukraine lorry drivers block key road in tax demo

Protesting Ukraine lorry drivers block key road in tax demo Kiev - Hundreds of Ukrainian lorry drivers protesting against newly-imposed taxes blocked a key motorway connection Odessa with Kiev on Monday, local media reported.

A make-shift barrier of old lorry tyres blocked four of the six lanes on the highway, Ukraine's largest inter-city thoroughfare, according to Korrespondent magazine.

Traffic was forced to a snail's pace as drivers made their way past in the single lane left open in each direction by the protestors.

IMF tells Ukraine to pass "non-inflationary" budget

IMF tells Ukraine to pass "non-inflationary" budgetKiev - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) tightened screws on Ukraine's government on Friday, saying the former Soviet republic could receive critically-needed emergency loans only if it adopted a "realistic budget."

"We are willing to agree to a change in the (planned) size of the (Ukrainian) deficit," said Max Alier, director of the IMF mission to Ukraine.

But Ukraine's divided government must develop a budget "not based on inflation-generating measures," he added.

Gazprom mulls fresh gas cuts to Ukraine

Moscow - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom warned it could again cut supplies to Ukraine in early March over 400 million dollars in new debt, a Russian newspaper reported Thursday.

Kommersant daily said new cuts were discussed at a board of directors meeting this week after Ukraine failed to pay for February supplies, an unnamed participant told the paper.

"If 400 million dollars is not paid on March 7, then on March 8 we will again have to cut off the gas to Ukraine," the insider quoted the head of Gazprom's finance department, Andrei Kruglov, as saying at the meeting.