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Russia cuts off electricity to Belarus

Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 01:22

June 29 - Russia says it has cut electricity supplies to its neighbor Belarus after the government failed to pay its bills. Matt Cowan reports.

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A tenth of Belarus' power comes from Russia - at least it did until supply was cut on Wednesday. Russia's state-run electricity company InterRao said its neighbour hadn't paid its bill for the past three months. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) INTERRAO REPRESENTATIVE ANTON NAZAROV, SAYING: "We had not received the payment, stipulated in our recent agreement, before 08:30, and have made a decision to halt the supplies of electricity to Belarus from midnight on June 28. I should emphasise this was in accordance with in our agreement." Russia's Vice Prime Minister Igor Sechin says the decison to cut supplies was an economic one as Belarus owed almost $43 million. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN VICE PRIME MINISTER IGOR SECHIN, SAYING: "There is no political background here, the issue is managed on a corporate level. It is not about interrupting electricity supply to Belarus consumers, this is about just one thing: with market processes. Electricity should be paid." But Belarus has a balance of payments crisis and was forced to devalue its currency last month by a third. High prices and a shortage of goods have triggered protests in the tightly-controlled state. And the economic situation is the worst in President Alexander Lukashenko's 17 year rule. The new power cuts are likely to put his already struggling regime under even more pressure. Matt Cowan, Reuters.

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Russia cuts off electricity to Belarus

Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 01:22