Russia’s Ambassador Surikov: We’ll Work Not With Opposition but With Lukashenka
Russian ambassador doesn’t like the anti-dictatorial mood of the Belarusian opposition.
As Interfax reports, Alexander Surikov said at a press conference in Minsk that Russia’s authorities were not going to cooperate with the opposition.
"As far as I know, Russian official bodies (president is an official, too) do not plan meetings with leading opposition politicians, as you call them," Surikov said.
"A word "leading" doesn’t suit here. The word "leading" supposes they lead masses," the Russian ambassador said, adding that the Belarusian opposition doesn’t have many supporters.
"Lukashenka is a leading politician who is acknowledged unambiguously by Russia," the ambassador said.
"We are going to work and make plans for next year with this politician, but not with those you may think," Surikov stated.
The Russian ambassador noted he had met with representatives of the Belarusian opposition. The Russian diplomat said he didn’t like their anti-Lukashenka mood.
Cheap Russian oil in exchange for privatization of Naftan
Speaking about conditions of Russian oil supplies to Belarus, Surikov said the main bulk of oil would be supplied under stock exchange prices in 2010.
"The volumes of duty-free Russian oil for domestic needs of Belarus should be defined. The rest will be supplied under stock exchange prices including custom fees. In my view, it is not correct to say that the rest oil will attract 100% customs fees, it’s not so. Oil should be supplied to Belarus under stock exchange prices of Ural oil. That’s all with this question," Surikov said.
The Russian ambassador noted the parties hadn’t arranged on volume of oil supplies for domestic needs of Belarus. "No precise figures have been set so far. I heard Belarus needs about 5–6 million tonnes, or 6–8 million, or 8–9 million tonnes," Alexander Surikov said.
He noted the concrete volume of oil supplies for Belarus’s domestic needs should be agreed upon within the frame of the bilateral working group.
Surikov gave to understand that Russia links oil prices for Belarus with an opportunity for Russian companies to take part in privatization of the Belarusian oil infrastructure, in particular refinery Naftan-Polimir.
Commenting on preparation of a package intergovernmental agreement on extending cooperation in fuel and energy sector, he emphasized that Moscow expects proposals from Belarus.
"We need to find a mutually beneficial alliance that would allow oil refining for the benefit of everyone –market participants and the two states. How will this alliance look like? The Belarusian party should make proposals, initiative only from one side is always difficult," Surikov noted.
"We have got tired to speak about Naftan since the late 1990s. But we see no progress. We expect our Belarusian partners to make proposals," the Russian ambassador said.
European prices for Russian gas for Belarus
Surikov also noted he didn’t expect problems on New Year’s night in connection with Russian gas supplies to Belarus.
"I don’t think there will be any problems with gas supplies on December 31. We have a contract for four years, the terms have been agreed upon by Gazprom and Beltransgaz," Alexander Surikov said. He also noted that gas supply balance to Belarus in 2010 had been approved.
According to the ambassador, cost of Russian gas supplies to Belarus in 2010 would reach 90% of the average European cost taking into account absence of customs fees and transport expanses.
Surikov explained the core of gas negotiations between Minsk and Moscow reduced to Belarus’s request on prolonging preferences for gas supplies in 2010. The preferences were established in 2008 and preserved in 2009.
The Russian ambassador said a 0.7 decreasing coefficient to the pricing formula was applied to Belarus in 2009 on the country’s request. The same coefficient was used when forming supplies prices in 2008. According to Surikov, Belarus wants to preserve a 0.5–0.75 decreasing coefficient in 2010. The ambassador stated the negotiations were being carried out by the same working group that continued discussing oil supplies to Belarus in 2010.
The Russian ambassador also touched upon the issue of building the first Belarusian nuclear power plant. According to Surikov, Belarus and Russia can sign a contract on building the nuclear plant in the first quarter of 2010.