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Moldova Says Russia Hikes Gas Price By One-Fifth

CHISINAU -- Moldovan Economy Minister Valeriu Lazar says Russia's Gazprom raised the natural gas price for Moldova by more than 20 percent on January 1, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The new price, which is valid for the first quarter of the year, is reportedly $233 per 1,000 cubic meters -- $40 above the previous price.

Lazar said on January 4 that the increase was announced by Gazprom in an official letter at the end of 2009 and will likely have a knock-on effect that pushes up prices for many other goods and services in Moldova.

Lazar said the government is working on measures to protect "the most vulnerable" social groups in Moldova against the possible upward trend in prices.

Moldova is almost entirely dependent on Russia for energy and negotiates prices for gas with Gazprom on a quarterly basis.