Belarus leader orders shutdown of Europe gas transit

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Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday ordered the shutdown of transit of Russian gas supplies to Europe after Russia cut supplies to Belarus by a third in a debt dispute.

"I have now ordered the government to shut down transit through Belarus until Gazprom pays for transit," Lukashenko said during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in televised remarks.

Russia earlier announced that it was reducing supplies to Belarus by 30 percent of normal daily volume after Minsk had taken no steps to resolve a debt to Gazprom of nearly 200 million dollars (163 million euros).

Belarus for its part says Gazprom owes it more than 200 million dollars in transit fees.

© 2010 AFP

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