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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Miller, several days ago, I met with our partner and ally, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to discuss various complicated topics. During the discussion, I raised the question of clearing Belarus’ debt to Gazprom, which has accumulated over the course of this year, owed payments for natural gas amounting, if I understand correctly, to about $200 million.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller: Yes, since the beginning of 2010, Belarus has accumulated a debt of some $200 million.
Dmitry Medvedev: And my understanding is that the debt has resulted from underpayments this year. In other worlds, their payments for the gas are still based on last year’s prices.
Alexei Miller: Belarus continues unilaterally paying the 2009 prices.
Dmitry Medvedev: Has any explanation for this been given?
Alexei Miller: Gazprom has sent two formal letters to our Belarusian colleagues but as a matter of fact we have not received an answer as to when this debt will be settled.
Dmitry Medvedev: I spoke about that with Mr Lukashenko, and he said that all of this is due to the difficult financial circumstances. The fact is, however, everyone is going through difficult times right now. We have our own problems, and Gazprom has a lot of problems too. Thus, unfortunately, this explanation is insufficient. What do you suggest doing in the near future?
Alexei Miller: In accordance with the terms and conditions of our contract, we have the grounds to reduce the volume of gas supplies to Belarus pro rata its debt to Gazprom.
Dmitry Medvedev: Then let’s do it as follows. Taking into account that we have discussed this issue amicably, let’s set a five-day deadline for our colleagues to determine how they will proceed. Please contact executives of the corresponding agencies in Belarus who are in charge of these issues, and request that they pay their debt as soon as possible. If this does not happen, then other measures will have to be applied.