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12

Russia Backed Gazprom's Policy

Russia's government underlined its support for gas export monopoly Gazprom's policy

Russia?s government underlined its support for gas export monopoly Gazprom?s policy of increasing charges to ex-Soviet republics as the company threatens to halt supplies to Belarus and Georgia next month, the Reuters news agency reports, Mosnews reported.

Gazprom said in a statement on Tuesday that its managers had received the full backing of the state-controlled company?s board, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Gazprom has been selling gas to former Soviet republics at below European prices since the collapse of the Soviet Union but started to charge more from 2003-2004, amid worsening political relations with some neighbours.

Gazprom?s gas prices in Europe have reached over $250 per 1,000 cubic metres due to soaring global energy prices in the past year, which would mean some former Soviet republics would have to triple or even quadruple their payments. Many ex-Soviet states have condemned Gazprom?s moves as politically motivated and said their economies would collapse without cheap gas.

In January, a gas pricing dispute prompted Gazprom to cut Ukraine off from gas and reduce gas transit to Europe in a move which led to political friction between the Kremlin and the European Union.

Many EU leaders have questioned Europe?s heavy reliance on Russia as the top supplier and have called for this dependence to be reduced by signing deals with alternative suppliers.