Ukraine said on Tuesday it was treating an explosion on a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to the rest of Europe as a possible “act of terrorism.”
The government, which is facing a rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, said the blast in central Ukraine – one day after Russia cut gas supplies to Kiev in a pricing dispute – did not disrupt gas flows to the European Union. But Interior Ministry Arsen Avakov said: “Several theories of what happened are being considered including the key theory – an act of terrorism.”
“According to local residents, they heard two big bangs just before the explosion which could indicate they were deliberate explosions.”
Tuesday’s explosion was in the Poltava region, which is far from the violence that has rocked east Ukraine, where the pro-Russian separatists have risen up against central rule. The Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod which was hit on Tuesday is the main transit pipeline carrying Russian gas to the European Union via Ukraine.
Police in Poltava region said the blast was at 2:20 p.m. local time and hit the pipeline about two metres below a field. There were no casualties.
LUHANSK: TWO RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS KILLED IN MORTAR FIRE
Two Russian journalists for a Russian state-owned TV channel died Tuesday in eastern Ukraine after being hit by mortar fire, the Rossiya 24 network said.
Correspondent Igor Kornelyuk, 37, died during surgery in a hospital after being wounded while on assignment in Luhansk. The whereabouts of the sound engineer who was with him were unknown throughout the day, but in late evening the network announced that Anton Voloshin had been confirmed dead as well.
Russian officials expressed indignation over the deaths. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Ukrainian government should be held responsible, while Russia’s federal investigative agency announced the opening of a criminal case.
Viktor Denisov, a cameraman working with Kornelyuk, said in a television broadcast that they were filming Ukrainian refugees fleeing the area north of the regional capital when mortar fire began. Denisov was not next to Kornelyuk when he was wounded.
Before the announcement of Voloshin’s death, the Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said Kornelyuk was the fourth journalist to be killed in Ukraine since the start of the year.
“The violence affecting journalists in Ukraine is reaching unprecedented levels. We again call on the belligerents to do whatever is necessary to protect journalists as required by international law,” said Johann Bihr, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk for the France-based organization.
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