The Russian Government has cancelled its resolution, according to which the Gazprom company supplied natural gas to Belarus at Russia's home prices, a RIA Novosti correspondent was told Saturday in the Government Information Department.
The resolution was effective since May last year and it will expire on January 1, 2004. By the resolution Gazprom was instructed to fix a gas price for Belarus on the level of wholesale prices introduced for Russian industrial consumers - 30 dollars for one ton.
It was explained at the Government Information Department that from now on Gazprom may deliver gas to Belarus at international natural gas prices.
It will be recalled that the other day President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus gave a negative answer to a proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the start of using the Russian ruble as a common currency for the union state of the two countries should not be delayed.
It became known last week that Gazprom approached the Government of Russia with a request to stop the talks with Belarus on establishing a joint gas transportation system and also to give up the plans to implement the inter-governmental agreement on pursuing a common gas price policy. In the opinion of the management of this gas monopoly of Russia, the differences with the Belarus side in the gas sphere are "fundamental and insurmountable."
After that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov warned about a possible revision of the agreement that provides for gas delivery to Belarus at reduced prices.
In the opinion of Russian experts, this decision seriously affects the economy of Belarus. Vyacheslav Nikonov, a Widely known political analyst in Russia, told RIA Novosti correspondent that the decision to sell gas to Belarus at normal, and not reduced, prices might make half of Belarusian industrial facilities unprofitable.
The chief of the Political Situation Center, Valery Fyodorov, said in an interview with RIA Novosti correspondent that the Belarusian economy "cannot develop successfully without Russia's financial support." Gazprom sells gas abroad at low prices only to Belarus, and the export and domestic prices of Russian gas differ enormously, the expert stressed.