Russia calls "absurd" Belarus statement on CIS court decision

Russia on Monday called "a complete political absurdity" the allegation by a Belarussian minister that Minsk has won a court hearing against Moscow over export duties.

Belarus sued Russia over oil export duties in the economic court of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

On Friday, the court recommended Russia lift export duties for oil products supplied to Belarus. It also gave the two sides three months to find a reconciliatory decision.

Belorussian Justice Minister Victor Golovanov said by making such an offer the court has shown its interest in the two parties finding a common ground, Moscow's Vedomosti daily reported.

He estimated the damage Russia has incurred to Belarus totaled 7 billion U.S. dollars as a result of 70-percent cut of oil supply in the first half of the year.

However, Deputy Russian Justice Minister, Vasili Likhachev, said it was "incorrect" to interpret that decision as Belarus' victory.

"This is just a technical recommendation. Minsk's statements only politicize and aggravates this process," he said as quoted by the RBC news agency.

Russia levied the duties since January 2010 but they have been suspended pending the court's ruling.

According to Golovanov, Moscow should impose a moratorium on the oil duties until the end of negotiations.

Such a moratorium will accelerate the negotiating process, as over 70 Russian enterprises also suffered loses from the duties, said the Belorussian minister.


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