Belarus President Fears Split-Off

The recent story with higher prices for Russia's energy supplies shouldn't cloud relations of two countries, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Sunday as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Russia and Belarus "should always be together," Lukashenko pointed out during the Easter Day service in Minsk cathedral. The economy of Belarus has overcome negative aftereffects triggered by higher prices for crude oil and gas. "We are able to recover feet. We have done it. Let me tell you, in the first half of this year, we will absolutely forget that it has happened," the president emphasized.

Bound by relations of allies, Russia and Belarus should jointly withstand outer threats "no matter the desire of anyone on this or that side of barricades."

Starting from the middle of 2007, Belarus will have to pay 100-percent price for the gas delivered by Gazprom. Today's cost doesn't exceed 55 percent. Since early this year, Moscow has hiked the gas price for Minsk from $46.68/ths cu meters to $100/ths cu meters.

As to the crude prices, Belarus introduced transit duties for Russia once the latter stepped up export duties on crude delivered to the neighboring state. Outraged by this move, Moscow temporarily cut off supplies via Belarus. The differences have been partially settled in time of the Moscow talks of the parties.