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    BELARUS INTRODUCES STRICT CONSERVATION MEASURES AS RUSSIA SHUTS OFF GAS

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    MINSK, February 19. (RIA Novosti correspondent Olesya Luchaninova). Belorussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said that the government had introduced strict conservation of resources measures. On Wednesday, Russia stopped delivering gas to Belarus and halted gas transit through the territory of Belarus. Gazprom said it had to do so because of unauthorized gas pumping by Beltransgaz.

    According to the Belorussian mass media, the republic's Council of Ministers viewed the steps taken by Gazprom as "an unprecedented form of pressure on the Belorussian people." The prime minister assured the citizens of Belarus, that they would not feel the consequences of the problem with Russian gas delivery. "The government will use all of its reserves to ensure acceptable temperature conditions in apartments and social facilities," the prime minister promised.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, recalled Vladimir Grigoryev, the Belorussian ambassador to Russia, to Minsk for consultations. According to the press service of the Belorussian leader, Mr. Lukashenko said, "now our relations with Russia will be poisoned with gas for a long time." RIA Novosti reported that today the president of Belarus will hold a press conference on the issues of Russian gas delivery.

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