Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov believes that the gas mammoth Gazprom may again set Russia's domestic prices on the gas supplies to Belarus.
He said to reporters on Wednesday that Gazprom would do so if acceptable terms were worked out for establishing a Russian-Belarussian gas transport company. "I think this will be the case," he added.
Kasyanov recalled that Russia's domestic prices for gas supplied to Belarus were set in 2002 in the belief that work would simultaneously begin to establish a common gas transport company. During 1.5 years, Gazprom has been supplying gas at reduced prices "as an encouragement for the upcoming realisation of plans to establish a common company". But, getting no acceptable terms for setting up the company, Gazprom has found it expedient to suspend cheap gas shipments.
Kasyanov stressed that Gazprom was a joint-stock company and "not part of the government. In its work it is guided by the legislation, corporate culture and the interests of its shareholders, not only the state. This is why we cannot give it any instructions but only recommendations or pass our decisions as share-holders through the board of directors," said Kasyanov.