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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lukashenko Faces Stormy Moscow Talks

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko flies Friday to Moscow, one of his few allies, for what are certain to be stormy talks on gas as Russia steps up pressure to cede control of pipelines or face steep price rises.

Brief statements in Moscow and Minsk on Thursday said Lukashenko, accused by Western countries of crushing human rights, would meet President Vladimir Putin.

There has been speculation throughout the week that Lukashenko, who has raged against proposed price increases, would put off the trip. Russia's ambassador said last week that prices could be quadrupled.

Lukashenko has threatened to sever all relations with Russia if it proceeds with the threatened sharp increases.

"We will survive, but you will lose the last ally," Lukashenko fulminated at journalists in September. "You will simply lose face."

Gazprom says it will push up prices if Belarus does not cede control of its gas pipeline network — proposing conditions it has promoted with other ex-Soviet states such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Belarus pays about $47 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas at the moment, while Gazprom wants about $200.