Reuters: Belarus continues to smuggle «solvent»
20:07, — Politics
Belarusian authorities is lying about close of the smuggling business.
Belarus has dodged about $1 billion in customs duty payments to Russia this year by exporting gasoline and other oil products under the guise of solvents and thinners, official data shows, infuriating Moscow.
Authorities in the small ex-Soviet republic say that, after a sharp rebuke from Moscow, they have now ended the practice.
A source in the Russian government contradicted this assertion by Minsk and said Belarus was still exporting solvents.
"They have said they understood (our concerns) but they have not understood anything. They keep pumping solvents (abroad). We are talking about millions of tonnes," the source, who did not wish to be identified, said.
This official said Russia estimated damages in lost revenue at about $1 billion and hinted at possible punitive action if the affair was not settled amicably.
"We have levers, including (gas and oil) taps," the source said.
Belarus' government and Russia's Energy Ministry had no comments on the issue.
The Russian government said this month it was considering introducing an export duty on solvents, equal to that for fuels.
Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said this month, citing an instruction from President Alexander Lukashenko.
"The last trainload left on August 4," Myasnikovich said, adding that the step was taken to alleviate Russia's concerns.
Minsk, however, insisted its activities were in line with the protocol of its trade treaty with Moscow.
"We have not broken any article of the customs union's customs code," Myasnikovich said.
Myasnikovich said he would discuss the issue further with Medvedev at a summit of Commonwealth of Independent States prime ministers in Ukraine on Friday.
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