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Medvedev asks Minsk to honor gas contract, avoid conflicts

RIA Novosti

21:01 25/06/2010 MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia hopes Belarus will behave responsibly, avoid conflicts and fulfill its obligations under Russian gas transit contracts, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

"I hope they [Belarus] will be more circumspect and honor their contractual obligations more thoroughly," Medvedev said, adding that the gas conflict was over.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said the company had reached an agreement with Minsk on 2010 fees for Russian gas transit via Belarus.

"The agreements have been made, but documents have not been signed yet," Miller said, without specifying how much Gazprom had agreed to pay.

He added that gas supplies to the EU via Belarus had been resumed in full.

Minsk refused to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter. The country has been paying only $150 since January 1. Gazprom reacted by withholding gas transit fees to Belarus.

The dispute came to a head on Monday, when Gazprom began reducing gas supplies to Belarus by 15%. The company increased cuts to 30% on Tuesday and then 60% on Wednesday.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier on Friday Russia had 24 hours to pay off its gas transit debt or Minsk would restrict oil and gas transit through its territory.

Gazprom insists it has paid its debt of $228 million in accordance with the current contract, but Minsk, which insists the original debt was $260 million, says the debt has still not been paid off in full.

Belarus says Gazprom "shortchanged" it by paying at the 2008 rate of $1.45 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 km. CEO of Belarusian pipeline company Beltransgaz Vladimir Mayorov said the current rate was $1.88, "as recorded in a bilateral protocol."

Gazprom resumed full gas supplies to Belarus at 10:00 Moscow time [07:00 GMT] on Thursday.

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