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(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
Belarus and the Russian gas giant Gazprom are locked in a bitter price dispute, which may affect gas deliveries to some EU countries. Gazprom threatens to cut gas supplies to Russia's closest ally unless it accepts a higher price while Belarus vows to retaliate by blocking the transit of Russian gas to the EU. The parties are holding last-minute talks to avert a shutdown as the New Year deadline looms.
Q: What does Gazprom demand? Gazprom seeks to raise the price for Belarus from 46.68 dollars to 105 dollars per 1,000 cu.m. of gas, which is still well below the market price for the region. Belarus gets 21bn cu.m. of gas a year from Russia. Gazprom is ready to accept 75 dollars in cash and the rest in shares in Beltranshaz, the Belarusian gas pipeline network, which the Russian company has eyed for years. Gazprom has made no secret of its plans to hike the price since March 2006, eventually lowering its demands from 200 to 105 dollars. Gazprom has threatened to cut off gas at 0700 gmt on 1 January unless a delivery contract is signed.
Q: What is Belarus's view? Belarus initially dismissed Gazprom's price as exorbitant, but First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka on 30 December suggested Belarus might accept a price of 100 dollars on condition it was fixed for a few years …