MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - An economic advisor to the Russian president said Wednesday that Russia's task of removing subsidies from the price of natural gas to Ukraine was "important, necessary, and honorable."
Andrei Illarionov, speaking at a news conference, said he was stating his position as an economist, not as a state official.
Russian energy giant Gazprom announced last week that it would not sell gas to Ukraine at the previously offered price of $160 per 1,000 cubic meters, and that the new price for 2006 would be $220-230. Russia has up until now been selling gas to Ukraine at $50.
"The current price of $50 is without any doubt a subsidized price. It was set under a different political situation and with a different non-economic goal," he said.
"It is important to move from political to economic relations," he said, but at the same time to "provide a non-selective and undiscriminating approach to all buyers of gas."