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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Price Hike Prompts Gas Lines

Moscow motorists lined up for hours Monday outside the city's gas stations as authorities announced a price hike likely to end shortages that hit the capital last week.


Penny-wise Muscovites waited in vain for supplies at government-run gas stations as official prices rose 70 rubles, to 400 per liter (about 13 cents) for 92-octane gasoline.


Drivers and gas retailers suspected that state-owned refineries were holding back supplies, waiting to reap bigger profits after the price hike.


"They tell us they don't have gas, but they do," said Galina Mikhailovna, a saleswoman at a state-owned station on Begovaya Ulitsa who would not give her last name. "It's an outrage. You should call the mayor about this."


Late last week, lines as long as 60 cars started snaking into the street at most gas stations. By Saturday, most state-owned pumps ran out of gas. Drivers said they had not seen such lines since early 1993.


Private traders, many operating from gasoline trucks, cashed in on the shortage, charging between 500 to 1,000 rubles per liter for 92-octane gasoline and 1,500 rubles per liter for higher-quality gas.


Now that the price hike has occurred, however, the shortages should disappear within days, said Alexander Korsak, deputy head of the city transport department. "There is no need to worry," Korsak said. "It's a temporary situation."


Korsak said that since Moscow has held its gasoline prices steady since April in the face of a continuing devaluation of the ruble, most drivers knew the price was about to rise and started to stock up.