Belarus has five days to decide on paying for Russian gas

GORKI, June 15 (Itar-Tass) -- Belarus has five days to make a correct decision on paying for Russian gas.

"The contract allows us to reduce gas deliveries to Belarus proportionately with its debts to Gazprom," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday.

"That is what we will do: we will give five days to our Belarusian colleagues so that they can make a decision. After all, we are partners," Medvedev said. "You will offer Belarusian colleagues to urgently pay the debts. If they refuse, we will have to apply strict measures."

Medvedev said he discussed the Belarusian debt to Gazprom at the recent meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In his words, the debt to Gazprom nears $200 million.

"Belarus continues to pay for gas in last year's prices," Miller remarked.

Gazprom sent two official letters to Belarus "but did not receive an answer when the debt might be repaid," he said.

"I had spoken to Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko], and he told me that the situation [the gas debts] resulted from the complicated financial situation. To be frank, everyone, including Gazprom, has problems at present," Medvedev said.

Belarus is capable of paying the debt, Miller said. He noted that $2.5 billion worth of Beltransgaz shares compensated the price rise. Gazprom has fully repaid 50% stake in Beltransgaz, he said. "The last tranche of $625 million for 12.5% stake was transferred this year," Miller said.

"Thus, Belarus has fully received Gazprom's payment for Beltransgaz shares and it is capable of paying for Russian gas in keeping with the contact 2010," he noted.


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