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Belarus Defiant After Failed Gas Talks With Russia

(RFE/RL) December 27, 2006 -- Belarus has hinted that it will not bow to Russian pressure on a steep gas price increase.

Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said Belarus would not allow Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom to send gas through its pipelines unless a deal on 2007 gas prices was reached by the New Year.

Syamashka was speaking at Minsk airport late on December 26 after his return from failed negotiations with Gazprom.

Gazprom officials have threatened to stop deliveries to Belarus if it does meet Gazprom's new rate of $105 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas -- more than twice what Belarus currently pays.

The company say Belarus could negotiate a reduction if it hands over a 50 percent share of its state-controlled gas transport network.

(compiled from agency reports)