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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Outstanding Heating Bills Wreak Havoc in Far East

Regional court marshals in the Far Eastern port city of Nakhodka cordoned off three buildings and several cars belonging to the local administration after several courts ruled that city authorities had failed to pay for heating fuel, Interfax reported Tuesday.

The action took place following decisions by arbitration courts in the Primorye region and Moscow that required Nakhodka City Hall to pay 292 million rubles ($9.5 million) for fuel oil deliveries in 1999 and 2000.

Nakhodka, a city of 200,000, owes more than 100 million rubles of the debt to the Alfa Eko M company, part of the Alfa Group's trading arm, which supplied the fuel, the report said. The rest is owed to various state and private organizations, including the Primorye road management committee.

The Kommersant newspaper quoted Alexei Kabanchenko, a spokesman for the Nakhodka mayor's office, as saying the agreement with Alfa Eko M was drawn up at the end of 1999, when the region was weathering an acute energy crisis due to a lack of fuel. At the time, local authorities were looking for any way possible to secure fuel oil for power stations.

Both the Primorye and Nakhodka administrations guaranteed the deal. Last year, however, following the sacking of longtime Primorye Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko, the regional administration under Governor Sergei Darkin backed out of its promise, Kommersant said.

Speaking by telephone from Vladivostok, a spokeswoman for the Primorye regional administration said only that regional authorities were considering the issue.

None of the buildings in question houses members of the city administration, Nikolai Palukha, chief court marshal of the Primorye region, told Interfax. Local authorities are going about their business as usual.

Palukha added that the Nakhodka administration has one month to begin paying off its debt -- or face the prospect of having its confiscated property auctioned off. Proceeds will go toward the debt.

Kommersant reported Nakhodka's overall debts at 700 million rubles, adding that the city was barely able to cover current costs for fuel.

"Even if all the mayoralty's property is confiscated, the debt won't be paid," Kommersant quoted Kabanchenko as saying.