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Russia's Medvedev to discuss energy with Belarusian president

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss the fulfillment of energy agreements and the prospects of bilateral economic cooperation with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, a Kremlin source said on Sunday.

Medvedev is visting Belarus on June 22 at Lukashenko's invitation to mark the Day of Memory and Grief, the day when the Great Patriotic War between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany began in 1941.

Medvedev will meet with Lukashenko in Brest, the fortress and the city that was attacked by Nazi Germany in the early hours of June 22, 1941 and held out for six weeks.

During their meeting, both presidents are expected to focus on strengthening bilateral economic relations and the prospects of creating an economic and customs union, the source said.

On January 1, 2007 Russia raised the price of its gas supplies to Belarus to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters from $46.7 in 2006, which sparked an energy dispute between the two countries and triggered more accusations in Europe that Russia is using oil and gas as a political weapon.

Russia currently ships gas to Belarus at $119 per 1,000 cu m but plans to raise the rate to $128 in the second half of this year.

The price for Belarus is among the lowest of the former Soviet states thanks to last year's deal with Gazprom, which bought 50% in the country's pipeline monopoly Beltransgaz. The Russian gas monopoly earlier said it would raise the price for the country to the market level in 2011.

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