Thursday, August 02, 2007

Belarus Not Expected To Siphon Gas From Russian Federation Transit Lines To Europe During Summer Months, But Is Called "Unpredictable"

"Alexander Lukashenko, Belarussian president, said on Thursday he had ordered his government to pay back a $456m debt to Russia for gas supplies after Moscow threatened to halve gas deliveries.

”I gave an order to the government to take this money from our reserves and pay $460m for Russian gas. It is not a huge sum for our country,” news agency RIA Novosti quoted Mr Lukashenko as saying.

”Although we will have our reserve fund a bit empty, other countries such as [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez as well as commercial banks are ready to come to rescue.”

Gazprom on Wednesday threatened to start halving its gas exports to Belarus from Friday in an attempt to force the country into paying a $456m debt to the Russian state-owned gas monopoly.

The move poses a threat to other countries supplied by Gazprom, as Belarus is an important transit route for Russian gas exports to Europe.

But the company said there would be no repeat of the reductions in European gas deliveries that took place during a price dispute with Ukraine in January last year that rocked confidence in Russia’s reliability as an energy supplier.

Ilya Kochevrin, Gazprom’s head of communications, said: “We will cut supplies to Belarus by 45 per cent if they don’t find a way to pay for gas delivered in the past six months. However, we will make sure that all our [European] customers get all their gas in the full amount.”

Gazprom doubled the price it charges Belarus for gas in January as part of a strategy to eliminate subsidies to former Soviet republics. The debt crisis erupted last week following the expiry of a six-month grace period, during which Belarus was allowed to delay paying the new $100 per thousand cubic metres price.

Mr Kochevrin said Gazprom did not expect Belarus to siphon gas from transit lines during the summer months but he said Belarus was “unpredictable”.

Gazprom will consider international arbitration if Belarus fails to pay its bill.

Belarussian transit pipelines serving Poland, Lithuania and Germany handle about 20 per cent of Gazprom’s total exports to Europe, far less than the Ukrainian route. Gazprom said it had notified the European Union and all its European customers about the dispute with Belarus." ...

Isabel Gorst "Belarus pledges to pay Russian gas debt" Financial Times August 2, 2007 (updated).


""It's time to end the anarchy in the Internet," government news sources quoted the Belarusian leader as saying while visiting the editorial office of the largest government-controlled newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya.

"We should not allow this great technical achievement of humankind to turn into an information sewer," Mr. Lukashenka said, suggesting enacting a law that would specify the status of online media outlets. "We'll not be pioneers in this regard, such practices exist in many states," he noted. ...

He suggested that media outlets should launch some "special projects" to convey "true information" to the public."

Maryna Nosava "Lukashenka vows to end «anarchy» in Internet" August 2, 2007

Photo credit: © 2002 – 2007 БелаПАН [Belapan] via [Belarus]. With thanks.


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