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    MOSCOW, February 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The suspension of Russia's natural gas supplies to Belarus is the problem, which lies with the economic domain alone, said Boris Gryzlov, Speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

    Mr Gryzlov said, referring to the relevant Duma committee, that Belarus possessed enough gas reserves of its own and can satisfy the demand of its housing and utilities sector.

    Moreover, the republic is not facing the problem of low indoor temperatures, argued Mr Gryzlov.

    Gazprom, Russia's natural gas giant, suspended gas exports to Belarus on January 1, 2004 over discords with the republican authorities. The private-owned companies of Itera and Trans Nafta were the only exporters of Russian gas to Belarus since then. However, Itera suspended exports on February 12, while Trans Nafta followed the example today. The companies say they have fulfilled the short-term contracts for gas supplies to Belarus, whereas the republic has not thus far signed the new contracts.

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