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Moldova Approves Budget Amendments To Allow Russian Gas Payment

Moldovan lawmakers have approved budget amendments that will allow the national energy company to pay energy dues to Russia's state-controlled Gazprom and avert a new energy crisis in the Eastern European country.

Following the November 25 vote, some 1.4 billion Moldovan lei ($79 million) was allocated to Moldovagaz to pay the Gazprom debt.

Gazprom told Moldova on November 22 that it would cut off gas to the country in 48 hours if it did not pay tens of millions of dollars for recent deliveries.

Moldovagaz head Vadim Ceban confirmed that the state energy company received such a notification from Gazprom, saying the sum amounted to 1.3 billion Moldovan lei.

Gazprom on November 24 agreed to postpone the deadline but expected the payment by November 26.

Last month, Chisinau declared a state of emergency and started buying gas from countries other than Russia after its contract with Gazprom, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, expired at the end of September, and the two sides failed to agree on details and pricing of a new long-term deal.

But in a breakthrough on October 28, the Moldovan government and Gazprom announced a new price formula for a five-year agreement to keep gas flowing.

Some observers have said Moscow was using energy against the impoverished country sandwiched between EU member Romania and Ukraine for electing pro-Western President Maia Sandu last year in a vote that rejected Russian-backed incumbent Igor Dodon.

Russia rejected the accusations, saying the hike was purely commercial and reflected global markets.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and TASS