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    GAS MONOPOLY SPOKESMAN ADVOCATES PHASED HIKE IN DOMESTIC GAS PRICES

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    MOSCOW, February 3, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Boris Fyodorov, a member of the board of directors of Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, has predicted a liberalisation of Gazprom's equity market.

    "Liberalisation of the share market has been postponed for a long time, and my impression is that this will, after all, take place before the end of the year," Fyodorov said at a news conference in RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

    Commenting on plans to reform the company, Fyodorov opposed "proposals for swift restructuring of Gazprom".

    "The most important issue is not the restructuring of the company, but the state's price policy," he believes. In Fyodorov's opinion, "gas prices should reach such a level that its sales inside the country should become profitable." Given the present domestic gas prices, which are by times different from export ones, "if Gazprom had not exported it would have long ago ruined itself," the board member emphasised.

    "I do not propose doubling the prices, but let us draw a target curve for prices to rise every year," he said.

    According to Fyodorov, the company has big complaints to make to the government over its plans to restructure Gazprom.

    "Give us normal prices and normal conditions and then decide whether you divide the company or not," Fyodorov said.

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