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Russia, EU to open talks over Gazprom probe

LONDON -- The Russian government will begin negotiations with the European Commission "in the next few days" over alleged anti-competitive practices by gas monopoly Gazprom, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Mr. Dvorkovich repeated the complaint already made by Gazprom and President Vladimir Putin about the recently launched probe into Gazprom' s activities in the European Union.

"Europe is trying to resolve its own problems using Russian resources," Mr. Dvorkovich said. "I don' t think this is the right way. Gazprom was always a reliable partner for Europe."

Addressing a banking conference in London, he also said the government is likely to dilute the finance ministry' s recent proposal to raise royalty taxes on oil and gas companies, such as Gazprom.

He forecast that Russian economic growth would be above 4% this year, and that the budget would be balanced. "There will be no tax increases," Mr. Dvorkovich said, before correcting himself to say: "Well, no significant ones."

Mr. Dvorkovich, one of the prominent economic liberals in the Russian government, also poured cold water on the suggestion that state-controlled oil company Rosneft should buy the 50% stake in oil producer TNK-BP that BP is trying to sell. "I am against increasing the state' s share in the oil sector in general," Mr. Dvorkovich said. though he said he wasn' t aware of any plans Rosneft had.

Dow Jones Newswires

09/11/2012

 

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