MINSK, Belarus, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Belarus has the legal right to negotiate the price of natural gas for Russian and Belarusian customers, the Belarusian prime minister said.
Gazprom ordered Belarus to hand over $244 million in gas debts in June or risk supply cuts. The dispute emerged over the differences between prices outlined in a contract and average market prices for gas.
Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said his country has submitted a proposal to Gazprom related to anticipated reductions in gas prices for 2010, RIA Novosti reports.
Russian gas giant Gazprom purchased half of the shares of Beltransgaz for $2.5 billion in 2007. Sidorsky said this gave his country the right to profits and leeway on contract terms.
"We should point out that when the joint enterprise was created and 50 percent of Beltransgaz's shares were sold to Gazprom, we agreed on equal profitability," he said, adding, "Belarus has a legal right to negotiate on the issue, taking into consideration the slump in gas prices."