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Pavluts denies possibility of filing lawsuit against ''Gazprom''

Daniels Pavluts. Photo: Edijs Palens/LETA.
 RIGA, Dec 20 - Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts has denied the possibility that Latvia could follow Lithuania and file a lawsuit against Russian gas giant ''Gazprom'', seeking compensation for abusing its market position in Latvia.
In an interview with the business information portal ''Nozare.lv'', he said that these are serious legal matters. The minister pointed out that he has said several times previously that he does not believe it is necessary to begin a large international lawsuit.
Pavluts said that this would not be in the interest of the Latvian people, nor the state.
The economy minister predicted that the government could begin reviewing the matter of gas market liberalization sometime in the first half of 2013. ''At the moment, we are in the analysis phase, so that we could begin making decisions on this matter,'' the minister said.
Asked whether during his meeting with ''Gazprom'' representatives the company let it be known that it could be more flexible towards Latvia in regard to gas prices if it does not take out the ''battle axe'' like Lithuania, the minister said that this is confidential information.
Pavluts said that ''Gazprom'' understands that gas market liberalization in Latvia will take place.
As reported, Lithuania this past October filed an international lawsuit against its sole gas supplier ''Gazprom'', seeking over a EUR 1 billion in damages due to what Vilnius sees as the Russian giant abusing its market clout.
"Lithuania initiated an arbitration procedure at the Stockholm arbitration tribunal against ''Gazprom'' over the gas price for Lithuania," then Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said at the time.
He said the Russian energy behemoth had failed to respect its commitment to apply a fair gas price for the Baltic state, which has faced an increase from USD 84 dollars in 2004 to USD 497 in 2012 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
The lawsuit, part of a long-running dispute between the two sides, comes after the European Union in September launched a probe of ''Gazprom's'' alleged abuse of its muscle in eight member states that were in Moscow's Cold War stomping ground, the AFP news agency writes.
Apart from Lithuania, the affected countries are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia.
The EU probe centers on ''Gazprom's'' use of long-term contracts to lock in prices that are tied to that of oil -- a policy that often leaves its supplies far more expensive than those available on the open market.
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