Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Chief of Russia's gas monopoly declares Belarus must pay European rates for natural gas

The head of Russia 's natural gas behemoth OAO Gazprom said Thursday that Belarus must pay European rates for its gas an apparent bargaining ploy to win control over its neighbor's gas pipeline system.

In a statement, the company said Alexei Miller, its chief executive officer, had told the Belarussian energy minister and the head of its state gas company in a meeting in Moscow that Russian gas "must be supplied at prices equivalent to the European level."

The Belarussian side was due to present its proposals on April 30, the statement said.

Belarus currently pays a rock-bottom price of roughly US$47 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas and profits from refining and selling cheap Russian oil.

But Russia wants control over Belarussian pipelines to Europe in return for its gas generosity and has been pressured to raise energy prices for Belarus as part of its bid to join the World Trade Organization, reports the AP.

D.M.