Turkmen opposition leaders appealed to Ukraine`s government and public Saturday to help them come to power in their Central Asian country following the death of President Saparmurat Niyazov, and pledged steady and cheap gas deliveries in return, according to RIA Novosti.

      Niyazov died of heart failure Thursday aged 66, and will be buried on Sunday. He ruled the country with an iron fist for more than two decades, forcing many prominent opposition activists into exile.

      "Our party has chosen a democratic path for the country`s development, and we ask the Ukrainian government to assist us in this," said Nurmuhammed Khanamov, the leader of the Turkmenistan party and a former ambassador to Turkey. "If we come to power, we will make sure there is no mess with gas deliveries, like it was the case under Niyazov."

      He said Turkmen opposition leaders who had to flee their home country during Niyazov`s dictatorial rule now seek to return and challenge the late president`s clan "in an open, democratic election monitored by international observers."

      "We seek to work with political and public organizations of Ukraine to be able to put it across to the Ukrainian people that in a longer term, we promise a review of natural gas prices and undisrupted deliveries," Khanamov said.

      Ukraine currently buys a mix of Russian and Turkmen natural gas from an intermediary company, at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. But with Russia set to more than double the price starting next year, Kiev has indicated it may stop importing Russian gas altogether, and opt for cheaper imports from post-Soviet Central Asian countries, including Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.