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    ANTI-TRUST POLICY MINISTRY SET TO OVERHAUL NATURAL MONOPOLISTS, ILYA YUZHANOV SAYS

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    PARIS, FEBRUARY 14, 2004, /RIA-NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT ANDREI NIZAMUTDINOV/ -- Russia's Ministry for Anti-Trust Policy and Small Business Support attaches priority to overhauling natural monopolists, Ilya Yuzhanov, who heads this Ministry, said here today.

    Replying to RIA-NOVOSTI's question, Yuzhanov stressed that, unlike the most conservative sectoral departments, his Ministry advocated radical reforms, while this reform concept was elaborated.

    In the long run, specific decisions, which are not a compromise between these two positions, matched the reformist concept more closely, Yuzhanov went on to say.

    I'm also a member of the Russian Railroads corporate board, as well as that of the UES (Unified Energy Systems) national power grid, Yuzhanov added. This makes it possible to regulate their activities from the inside, Yuzhanov stressed.

    Meanwhile the natural-monopolist reform is still in its initial stage, Yuzhanov told RIA-NOVOSTI. We have so far accomplished just 10-15 percent of our objectives inside both sectors, he noted.

    Talking about gas-sector reform prospects, Yuzhanov said that gas pipelines should be managed separately (in line with the oil-industry reform concept); as a result, all gas consumers shall be entitled to equal gas-delivery opportunities.

    We have already implemented initial measures in this sphere, gradually depriving Gazprom of its pipeline network, Yuzhanov added.

    According to Yuzhanov, the railroad network, as well as the power grid, shall be overhauled in line with similar plans. The state will continue to own railroads and high-voltage power-transmission lines, with shareholding companies creating the consumer-service market on a competitive basis, Yuzhanov said in conclusion.

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