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    ANTI-TRUST MINISTER: PIPELINES SHOULD BE STATE-OWNED

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    MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Pipelines in Russia should be owned by the state, Russian Anti-Trust Minister Ilya Yuzhanov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

    "100% of the transport component should be owned and regulated by the state," said the minister.

    At the same time, he added, extraction and distribution should be private business. "The more companies there are, the better. This will create competition," he added.

    The minister emphasized that "access to a pipeline should be equal and not discriminating. In his opinion, the government should see to it, as an independent arbiter.

    Yuzhanov believes that the gas sector reform will make gas prices decreasingly regulated. "Today, the regulated price is slightly understated." The minister noted that gas prices on Russia's domestic market were historically regulated by the state. However, he does not see it as state support, as Russia's opponents in the EU believe.

    In his opinion, the external price will always be higher that the domestic price due to higher transport expenditures. For example, petrol prices are not state regulated by are nevertheless three times lower in Russia than in Europe.

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