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Russian finance min. to propose granting Belarus $1.5 bln loan

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Friday his ministry would submit to the government a $1.5 billion loan proposal for Belarus later in July. 

Kudrin denied allegations that Russia had received a request to increase the loan to $2 billion. “We have not received any other proposals,” the finance minister said. “We were [initially] requested to grant $1.5 billion.” Late in June Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Russia would consider issuing a loan to Belarus for gas purchases as part of a program to maintain market relations in energy supplies.

Russia increased its gas price for Belarus from $47 to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters from the start of 2007. However, with Minsk paying almost half the price for gas ($55 per 1,000 cubic meters), the Belarusian debt had climbed to $400 million by late May. (rian.ru)