Belarus says Russia gas debt paid, threatens transit cut

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Belarus said Wednesday it had paid its debt to Russian gas giant Gazprom in full and threatened to shut down the flow of Russian gas to Europe if the firm did not pay transit fees on Thursday.

"Today at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT), 187 million dollars was transferred to settle our debt to Gazprom," Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said.

"Now it is our right and I demand that Gazprom pay Beltransgaz 260 million dollars by 10:00 am (0700 GMT) tomorrow. If this is not done, we will be forced to shut down hydrocarbon transit through Belarussian territory."

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov could not confirm that payment had been made.

"We will confirm when we receive the money," he told AFP.

© 2010 AFP

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