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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Misses Gas Payment

MINSK -- A delegation from Belarus flew to Moscow on Monday for urgent talks with Gazprom after Minsk missed a deadline to pay $500 million for gas deliveries.

"We should have paid before July 23, but haven't paid so far," a spokesman for Alexander Ozerets, Belarus' energy minister, said after the minister flew to Moscow for talks.

"The delegation is here, at Gazprom. Talks are continuing, but we can confirm that the deadline was missed," a Gazprom spokesman said.

The talks came as Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko fired the heads of leading state energy firms, blaming them for failing to avert an energy shock caused by Russia's hike of gas export prices early this year.

In January, Belarus agreed to sell half its gas pipeline firm Beltransgaz for $2.5 billion, while Gazprom said it would raise prices for Belarus to just $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, instead of the initially planned $200, from the previous $46.

Lukashenko fired the heads of petrochemicals firm Belneftekhim, Beltransgaz and state oil and refined products trader Belarussian Oil Company.

The head of Beltransgaz, Dmitry Kazakov, will be replaced by a regional governor, Vladimir Mayorov. Vladimir Zubkov heads up the Belarussian Oil Company after former boss Alexander Borovsky was arrested on suspicion of corruption. The government's chief of staff, Vladimir Kazakevich, becomes the new head of Belneftekhim.