RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT INTENDS TO ADOPT A PACKAGE OF DOCUMENTS ON ENERGY REFORM

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ASTANA, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government is expected to adopt a package of documents on the reform of Russia's energy sector before the year's end, according to Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko.

Mr Khristenko is taking part in the meeting of the Russian-Kazakh inter-government commission under way in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital.

"The plan of legislative activities related to the reform of the energy sector has been approved. It comprises 19 documents, i.e. government resolutions, that are to be adopted before the end of this year," said Mr Khristenko.

"The commission on the energy reform is expected to consider all 19 documents. Besides, it will have to look into corporate activities to reform companies in line with energy reform plans," noted the minister.

"I mean major, territorial and wholesale, units will have to be established," added Mr Khristenko.

The prospective merger of the Gazprom gas giant and the Rosneft oil company requires a thorough study of all aspects of the deal as they are world-class companies in terms of production rates and significance, according to Mr Khristenko.

"This is a difficult process technically and legally and in terms of corporate law. However, the process is in progress already, and it must go its cycle smoothly without any hikes and rapid advances, without any doubts whatsoever," said the minister.

Commodity turnover between Russia and Kazakhstan has risen more then 50% over 8 months of 2004 and thereby reached $5 billion in absolute terms, according to Mr Khristenko. "This is a record high indicator that is very encouraging," said Mr Khristenko.

Mr Khristenko added that the figure prompted them to make the trend sustainable and discover new cooperation spheres.

"The next few months before the year's end will clearly be the most important for drafting a whole range of inter-government documents. We believe these documents will hopefully be completed," said Mr Khristenko.

Mr Khristenko said the documents dealt with further cooperation related to the Baikonur cosmodrome (being used by Russia under a 49-year-long lease agreement), communication satellites and efforts to unify rules and requirements for civil liability insurance for car owners.

"I could name other important documents that will be prepared for the governments' approval in the near future. However, I have to admit that some of the issues are yet to be agreed on," said Mr Khristenko.

Year of Russia events will be rounded off in Kazakhstan with not merely a gala concert and other amusement events. "We have requested all ministries and agencies to ease the burden of old, difficult and sensitive issues that have encrusted with no end of details by the year's end," emphasised Mr Khristenko.

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