RUSSIA'S NOT TO CHANGE ITS GAS POSITION IN TALKS WITH BELARUS

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MOSCOW, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's position in the talks with Belarus on gas problems remains immutable.

"The Russian president declared Russia's principles on the possible solution of gas problems in Sochi last year. We voiced our proposals and got no answer", said a source in the Russian government.

According to the source, Russia is interested in selling gas to Belarus at market prices not less than to Ukraine. Russian gas transit via Belarus should also have a market price acceptable for Moscow.

Being asked what is more important for Russia: agreeing on a gas price or on the Beltransgaz problem, the governmental source said: "It is more important for us to agree on the entire range of problems without separating them".

Simultaneously, it is wrong when the gas problem is solved at the level of presidents, the source said. "The president should not tackle gas because in this way he assumes responsibility for us, which means risks, and this is wrong", the source noted.

On Friday Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed to Belarussian scientists to develop updated methods of energy saving. Belarus should escape energy dependence in order to preserve its sovereignty, he said at the meeting in the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

Asked about prospects of the ruble introduction as the common legal tender, the governmental source doubted that this can be done in 2005.

"It is not yet clear about the ruble, minding that the technicalities of its introduction will take eight months. It can hardly be done in 2005", he said.

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