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    The presidents of Russia and Bulgaria will discuss new oil and gas pipelines and European energy security in the wake of gas supply disruptions last month when they meet in the Kremlin on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Russia and Bulgaria will discuss new oil and gas pipelines and European energy security in the wake of gas supply disruptions last month when they meet in the Kremlin on Thursday.

    President Georgi Parvanov is on a visit to Moscow until February 6, when he also hopes to discuss the issue of compensation from Russia after the Balkan country failed to receive Russian gas for almost two weeks during last month's dispute between Moscow and Kiev.

    Speaking to reporters ahead of Parvanov's visit, the Russian president's aide Sergei Prikhodko said the presidents would focus on "practical steps to carry out strategic projects in the energy sphere."

    They include the Belene nuclear power plant Russia is building in northern Bulgaria; the South Stream pipeline to bring Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and other European countries; and a pipeline project between Russia, Greece and Bulgaria to pump Russian and Caspian oil from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas to the Greek Aegean port of Alexandroupolis.

    "The leaders will exchange opinions on the problem of ensuring energy security in Europe," Prikhodko said, adding about 10 agreements were planned for signing, including in the spheres of energy and the judiciary.

    Talking about the January gas crisis in Moscow on Wednesday, Parvanov said: "Bulgaria suffered a significant loss and must receive compensation."

    The Balkan state earlier said more than 350 large companies were affected with 44 forced to shut down as Russian gas supplies via Ukraine were cut off on January 6 and only resumed on January 20 when Moscow and Kiev reached a deal after EU-mediated talks. Sofia estimated the losses to the country at 250 million euros (about $320 million).

    In an interview with Bulgarian media in the run-up to Parvanov's visit, President Dmitry Medvedev blamed Ukraine for the disruptions saying "legal responsibility should lie with the party guilty of failure to fulfill [the transit] contract."

    Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after failing to agree on debt and prices for 2009 in late December and later halted gas deliveries to Europe, saying Ukraine was stealing transit gas. Kiev denied the accusation.

    Russia's frequent disputes with its former Soviet neighbors have raised concern in Europe about too much energy dependence on Russia.

    But Medvedev urged steps to diversify supply routes, referring to South Stream and Nord Stream, a pipeline to transport gas from Siberia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, which he said would make Europe "less dependent on the whims of political regimes in this or that [transit] country."

    Prikhodko also said Medvedev and Parvanov would discuss new proposed security arrangements for Europe and reform of its financial system against the backdrop of the ongoing global credit crunch.

    Bilateral trade grew from $1.4 billion in 2002 to $5.14 billion in 2008.

    "We do not plan any breakthroughs during the visit, we would like to demonstrate the profound nature of our historical, cultural ties," Prikhodko said.

    The leaders are expected to open the Year of Bulgaria in Russia - to mark 130 years since the countries established diplomatic relations - with a performance at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater late on Thursday.

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