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BUSINESS SHORTS

Russia wants to increase Slovakia's gas prices

GAZPROM, the Russian state-owned energy monopoly, wants to increase Slovakia's natural gas prices by 10 percent. If Slovakia's gas utility, SPP, does not succeed in talking the Russians out of it, ordinary Slovaks will suffer along with the country's economy.

Any increase in gas prices would complicate the government's efforts to keep inflation low - one of the criteria that must be met for euro adoption in January 2009.

SPP spokeswoman Dana Kršáková said that SPP is trying to negotiate the best possible prices for consumers.

According to the Pravda daily, the price hike proposal was made after Slovak Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek visited Russia last November. However, the minister did not mention the possibility of higher gas prices after his meeting with Russian officials.

Instead, he labelled Russia "a stable and reliable partner in the energy supply sector".

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