Russian sales of crude oil to Belarus so far have been exempt from export duties. But during a recent dispute with Minsk over gas prices, Russia said it would introduce a duty as of 2007.
Russia and Belarus signed a new gas deal late on December 31, with Minsk agreeing to pay Gazprom, Russia's state-run gas monopoly, more than twice what Belarus was paying last year.
Syamashka said the price increase will be absorbed by companies, not Belarusian consumers.
Under the deal, Gazprom will also gain a 50 percent stake in Belarus's state-owned gas-transit monopoly, Beltranshaz.
A worker inspects a gas facility outside of Kyiv (epa file photo)
MURKY CONNECTIONS. A year after the so-called gas war between Moscow and Kyiv, energy transhipments from Russia to Europe via Ukraine remain a concern. On December 1, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a briefing featuring Tom Mayne, an energy researcher for the London-based Global Witness. Mayne discussed the lack of transparency in the energy sectors of Ukraine, Russia, and gas supplier Turkmenistan.
LISTENListen to the entire briefing (about 60 minutes):
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