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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Cuts Gas to Belarus




MINSK, Belarus -- Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom cut gas supplies to Belarus by 30 percent Wednesday due to a growing debt for deliveries, a Belarussian government official said.


"Gas supplies were cut by 30 percent today. The government has not yet started negotiations with Gazprom," the official said.


The head of the Economy Ministry's energy department Alexander Sivak earlier said the supplies were being cut because of Belarus's mounting debt, which he said had risen to $280 million from $200 in January.


The debt had risen despite a largely politically motivated cut in the gas price for cash-strapped Belarus, a former Soviet republic of 10 million that relies wholly on Russia for its gas supplies, to $30 per 1,000 cubic meters from $50.


Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev earlier this month lashed out at government interference in Belarus's economy, which he said was to blame for the mounting pile of debt to his company.


Belarus, which rejects unpopular market reforms in favor of strict government currency, price and other controls, is struggling with growing economic and financial problems after years of official reports of booming economic growth.


Belarus aspires to form a union state with Russia, which it hopes would enable it to buy natural gas and other raw materials at Russian internal prices.