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Armenian President Defends Deals With Gazprom --> Armenian President Robert Kocharian (left) applauds a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin to open the Year of Armenia in Russia in January 2006 (file photo) (epa) April 8, 2006 -- Armenian President Robert Kocharian today defended his government's decision to sell part of the Hrazdan electro-thermal power plant to Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom.

Addressing reporters during a visit to Armenia's Kotayk region, he said the deal would have a positive impact on national economy.

Kocharian also dismissed concerns about Gazprom's decision to charge Armenia $110 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas up until January 1, 2009. He said the price was "low" and that the deal will help stimulate Armenia's exports.

Those agreements are contained in a 25-year-deal strategic cooperation agreement Gazprom signed on April 6 with Armenia.

The Armenian opposition has criticized the deal, saying it was detrimental to national interests.

Pending the opening of a gas pipeline from Iran, landlocked Armenia is entirely dependent on Russia for its energy supplies.


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