European Commission promises objective, unbiased investigation into Gazprom activities

Russia's envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov and Joaquin Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for competition, met in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the prospects of the official investigation conducted by the European Commission into the activities in the EU by Gazprom, which is suspected of violating the anti-monopoly regulations.

"Mr. Almunia assured me that Gazprom's counter-arguments will be considered with due objectivity, Chizhov told reporters after meeting with Almunia.

The Russian diplomat said the meeting has "a very frank and business-like atmosphere."

"I thanked Mr Almunia for these explanations. I asked him several questions, which he answered. Naturally, the parties to this probe will be Gazprom and the companies in the EU countries with which Gazprom signed those contracts. The subject of the probe will be the contracts," Chizhov said.

Chizhov recalled that the official investigation into Gazprom's activities "did not come out of the blue."

"It is part of the chain of events that began last fall when documents were seized in Gazprom subsidiaries registered in Europe and in companies affiliated with Gazprom," the diplomat said.

"Intergovernmental agreements are not a subject of the probe, although it is said that the probe was initiated by the government of Lithuania," he said.

Chizhov also said it happened "when the dispute between Gazprom and the Lithuanian regulator, if we call things by their proper names, on the forced nationalization of the pipeline in Lithuania, led to a lawsuit filed by Gazprom with the Stockholm Arbitration Court."

"This coincidence leads one to believe that out respected Lithuanian colleagues are trying to use the European Commission to influence these legal proceedings, whose results may be not quite in Lithuania's favor," Chizhov said.

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