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Belarus president tells officials not to grovel to Russia

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Russia on Tuesday of failing to fulfill bilateral economic agreements and called on Belarusian officials to "stop kneeling in Russian offices."
MINSK, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Russia on Tuesday of failing to fulfill bilateral economic agreements and called on Belarusian officials to "stop kneeling in Russian offices."

"As regards Russia, there's not exactly fair treatment here, and I'm not afraid to announce it publicly. We agreed that we will pay $150 for gas each quarter. And then other people come and say it's a bit too little. What we agreed is not getting anywhere," Lukashenko said during a visit to the Gomel Region.

Russian Ambassador to Minsk Alexander Surikov said in February the price of Russian natural gas for Belarus would average $150 per 1,000 cu m in 2009, adding that everything would depend on crude and oil derivatives prices.

However, Russian energy giant Gazprom denied in March that any agreement had been reached on an "average" price for gas deliveries in 2009 or that the price would be linked to world oil prices.

Lukashenko also said Belarus should not "fixate" on selling goods in Russia. "Our officials need to stop kneeling in Russian offices. If they don't want to let us onto their markets, we will seek other export vectors," the president said.

"Life itself teaches us and forces us to diversify exports. Our products are of normal quality, they are quite competitive. We will always be present on the Russian market, but we need to master other markets as well," he said.

In February, Lukashenko said there were problems regarding the access of Belarusian goods to the Russian market. In particular, there was talk of restricting the deliveries of Belarusian medicines, meat, dairy products and confectionery.

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