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Georgia Accuses Gazprom Of 'Blackmail'


http://gdb.rferl.org/a5b10048-cca1-413f-a377-82dc9bbc71ed_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/a5b10048-cca1-413f-a377-82dc9bbc71ed_mw800_mh600.jpg Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli (file photo) (AFP) November 8, 2006 -- Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli has accused Russia of "political blackmail" following a threat by Gazprom to halt supplies if Georgia fails to agree to a new, higher gas price.


Noghaideli told a cabinet meeting today that his government is conducting negotiations with other countries on gas supplies.


The Georgian state minister for coordination of economic reforms, Kakha Bendukidze, denounced Russia for demanding a higher price from Georgia than from other former Soviet republics, saying that "during the previous round of talks... it had been agreed that the price of gas would be the same for all consumers in the Southern Caucasus."


Gazprom wants Georgia to pay $230 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from $110 now, and the head of Gazprom, Aleksandr Medvedev, on November 7 said Georgia could offer assets to guarantee lower prices.


Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze today said Georgia will not sell its trunk gas pipeline to Russia. The pipeline is also used to transport Russian gas to Armenia.


Opposition lawmakers urged the government to seek a compromise to avoid supplies being cut off.


(Rustavi-2, Interfax)

Moscow And Tbilisi

Russian military hardware being withdrawn from a Russian base in Batumi, Georgia, in August 2005 (TASS)

WHAT COMES NEXT? Although Russia is unlikely to push an aggressive military response to the current tensions with Georgia, it has a number of economic, political, and diplomatic options at its disposal. Already on October 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned his inner circle to weigh Moscow's options... (more)


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MORE: Coverage of the situation in Georgian from RFE/RL's Georgian Service and in Russian from RFE/RL's Russian Service.


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