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Russia: Nemtsov Defends Building Pipeline Around Chechnya

Moscow, 16 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov said today that Moscow's decision to build an alternative pipeline bypassing Chechnya was "correct" and should have been made long ago. Nemtsov said Russia needed the new pipeline so as not to depend on "political awkwardness and unclarity."

Nemtsov said the new pipeline was also needed because the existing pipeline through Chechnya did not allow for the annual shipment of some 20 to 25 million tons of oil, expected towards the year 2000.

Nemtsov said the building of the new pipeline will not be financed out of the state budget. He did not make clear where the funds will come from. Nemtsov had said earlier some $220 million would be needed to build the new pipeline.

Chechen authorities accused Moscow of trying to annul previous agreements with the breakaway Caucasus republic by its decision to build an alternative pipeline. Nemtsov however said Moscow will start today transferring the first funds for the restoration of the existing pipeline through Chechnya.