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    MINSK, February 20th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Olesya Luchaninova) - The statement of a Russian foreign ministry spokesman in view of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko's remarks aroused the indignation of the Belarussian side.

    "This was obviously an attempt to shift responsibility and mislead the public opinion," runs the Belarussian foreign ministry's statement.

    "The Russian side stopped gas supplies in breach of all intergovernmental agreements, and gas prices that Gazprom is imposing on the Belarussian side obviously run counter to these agreements," says the document.

    The foreign ministry has said that the Belarussian side had repeatedly and well in advance drawn the Russian foreign ministry's attention to this situation through diplomatic channels.

    Andrei Savinykh, spokesman for the Belarussian foreign ministry, read out the statement and recalled the memo signed in 1994 at the top level in Budapest between Russia, Belarus, the United States and Great Britain.

    "The memorandum mentioned security guarantees in view of Belarus's accession to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under the memo, Russia is to refrain from economic pressure on Belarus's rights to sovereignty and provide itself with all the ensuing advantages," said the spokesman.

    "Accusations of Belarus aggravating relations with Russia look absolutely absurd against this background," stressed Savinykh.

    The Russian foreign ministry spokesman described Lukashenko's statements on the situation around gas supplies to Belarus as embarrassing.

    "The embarrassing statements that Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko made on February 19th testify to the fact that he is opting for aggravated relations with Russia," runs the document.

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