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Expert: Russia and Belarus fail to get on well with each other on the single market they have created

A decision banning Gazprom and Tatneft companies from supplying oil products to Belarus was made, as a new scheme of tax evasion by some Russian companies has emerged, Belarusian political analyst Nikolay Radov told EADaily on March 18.

To recall, on March 17, Russian media reported that Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, raised the issue of the drastic growth of oil product supplies to Belarus by Gazprom and Tatneft. The companies were recommended to stop the supplies to Belarus.

The expert thinks it quite probable that one of the Belarusian officials participates in these shadow deals. “Even despite the common market of the Eurasian Economic Union, without a preliminary consent of the government structure, it is hardly possible to sell oil products in Belarus – the country has enough petrol, diesel and other fuel for domestic needs. Furthermore, this seriously affects the local oil industry that has already faced problems, as the oil price is sliding,” Radov said.

“The volume of oil products supplied to Belarus is miserable, indeed, and it is untimely to speak of any big deals, but it is a signal to the Russian leadership. At first, they are testing simple schemes, and then create more complicated ones to pump much bigger sums from Russia,” the expert said.

In his words, this conflict of interests is just one of the numerous problems between Belarus and Russia. “It appears that no one is going to settle these problems. Despite the common market the two countries have established, they still fail to get well on with each other there. This means that such problems will be emerging in future too. Although it seems to be a commercial problem the country should not interfere in, the political component in the Belarus-Russia relations is still of fundamental importance,” Nikolay Radov said.

As EADaily reported earlier, one of the oil traders supplying Belarusian petrol to the Russian market said Gazprom and Tatneft gained twice by increasing supplies. Actually, the source said, they minimized taxes, as supply to Belarus is not considered as export, and received profits, as supplying petrol to filling stations in Belarus within the first two months of 2016 was more profitable than to the Russian market because of the difference in the price.

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