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    RUSSIAN MP CALLS NOT TO MAKE DRAMA OUT OF CESSATION OF GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS

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    MOSCOW, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Victoria Prikhodko). Chairman of the State Duma committee for CIS and compatriots Andrei Kokoshin calls not to make a drama out of the cessation of Russian gas supplies to Belarus.

    This is an economic issue and it would be wrong to turn it into a political problem, Kokoshin told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    According to the deputy, the cessation of Russian gas supplies to the neighboring republic "would, certainly, impact on our relations with Belarus". However, he is convinced that "this issue as well as problems of the Russian gas transit to Ukraine and Ukrainian gas debts will be settled".

    "We should focus on many other political and military issues in our relations with Belarus," Kokoshin said. In his opinion, "the formation of a real Russia-Belarus union depends on this".

    On Wednesday night Gazprom had to stop natural gas supplies to Belarus and its transit via Belarussian territory because of unauthorized gas pumping by Beltransgaz.

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