Russia to closely monitor EU probe on Gazprom: Putin

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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia would be carefully monitoring the probe launched by the European Union against the Gazprom natural gas monopoly amid a pricing dispute.

"The Russian government will be carefully monitoring what is happening around Gazprom. I ask you to report on this in a timely manner," Putin told Gazprom chief Alexei Miller in comments released by the Russian government.

The European Commission -- the bloc's executive body -- last week announced that officials "undertook unannounced inspections" at the premises across Europe of unidentified companies active in the natural gas trade.

Gazprom later confirmed that the raids were conducted against the offices of its subsidiary companies and trading partners. It also stressed that such searches did not invalidate the merit of existing contracts.

Miller told Putin on Monday that the searches were "completely unexpected".

"We hope that the legitimate interests of Gazprom will be respected," said Miller.

Putin told Miller that Gazprom had to cooperate with the investigation and provide all the information required.

But he also inquired whether anyone had been arrested or jailed in the raids.

"No, Vladimir Vladimirovich, they have not arrested anyone yet," said Miller.

"Thank God," Putin replied.

© 2011 AFP

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