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Moldovan Official Doubts Russia Plans To Control Its Energy Sector

Moldovan Economy Minister Valeriu Lazar
Moldovan Economy Minister Valeriu Lazar
CHISINAU -- Moldovan Economy Minister Valeriu Lazar has rejected media speculation that the Russian energy giant Gazprom is trying to take over Moldovagaz, the country's sole distributor of Russian gas, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

"I haven't seen such intentions [on the part] of Gazprom," Lazar told RFE/RL's Moldovan Service today.

Moldova, which depends almost entirely on Russia for energy, reportedly owes Gazprom over $2 billion in unpaid gas bills. Gazprom already owns 51 percent of Moldovagaz's shares, and some Moldovan analysts believe it wants to take over the company completely.

Lazar also told RFE/RL that Moldova's financial situation is "sound" and the country is unlikely to face a "Greek-type" crisis. He said his government was correct in launching an austerity program in late 2009 that froze civil servants' wages in line with an IMF loan agreement.

Lazar said that because of those measures, Moldova is now under less financial pressure than other countries in the region, such as Romania and Greece.