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    BELARUS TO BUY RUSSIAN GAS FOR COMMERCIAL PRICES ONLY BEFORE JOINT VENTURE APPEARS, HOPES PREMIER

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    MINSK, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Olesya Luchaninova) - Belarus will import Russian gas on commercial prices only till a gas-piping joint venture is set up. Meanwhile, it will have to coordinate import prices and amounts with the Gazprom, Russian gas monopoly, Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky of Belarus said to Novosti.

    It will be preposterous to have different prices for Belarussian- and Russian-based companies when the joint venture appears, he remarked.

    Belarus will import Russian gas from independent companies or the Gazprom, as the case may be, added the Premier.

    He pointed out disputable matters on which the Parties have not agreed to this day. Thus, Belarus is driven into consternation with Gazprom Co. determined to cede Beltransgaz Co. at balance cost within three or four months. Balance cost is an evaluation unknown anywhere in the world, market-oriented Russia being no exception, pointed out Mr. Sidorsky.

    Belarus is choosing independent corporate auditors to evaluate Beltransgaz property, he said to Novosti in Minsk.

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