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    POLAND PREMIER DEMANDS EXPLANATIONS FROM RUSSIA FOR END OF GAS DELIVERIES VIA BELARUS

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    WARSAW, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Leonid Sviridov) - Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller has demanded explanations from Russia for the end of gas deliveries via Belarus.

    In a conversation with journalists, he said he had asked Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz to hold relative telephone talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov. Leszek Miller has also asked the Polish Foreign Ministry for talks with the Russian ambassador to Poland.

    "The main thing is that we are to realise that the ending of the contracted deliveries of Russian gas via Belarus means a 30-percent delivery shortfall. This certainly does not mean that Poland will be wholly left without gas," the premier told the Polish parliament on Thursday. It is the 30 percent, which Warsaw is trying to make up for from other sources, Miller said. A memorandum on alternative gas shipments to Poland will be signed today with a Norwegian concern, he said.

    Russia has suspended the deliveries of gas to Belarus. The transit of gas via Belarus to Europe has also stopped because the Belarussian Beltransgaz company was stealing transit gas.

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