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Russia: Gazprom Chairman Says Deal Reached With Government

Moscow, 15 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The chairman of Russia's huge natural gas utility "Gazprom" says he has agreed with a top government official that his company will continue to manage 35 percent of the state's shares held "in trust" by Gazprom.

Rem Vyakhirev told a news briefing in Moscow today that he has reached an agreement on the issue with first deputy Prime Minister Borsi Nemtsov.

Vyakhirev's announcement has not been confirmed so far by government officials.

Last week Nemtsov and other officials called for the review of the agreement. The move followed Vzakhirev's harsh attack against the government's plan to reform monopolies.

The government says the country's gas, electricity and transporation monopolies -- including Gazprom -- are a major source of the wage and pension arrears crisis. Gazprom reportedly owes the federal government more than $2.5 billion in back taxes.