A presentation of a book “Gazprom. Deal with Regime” has taken place in Germany. Its authors, Russian journalists Valery Panyushkin and Mikhail Zygar, have dedicated a separate chapter to activities of Gazprom in Belarus.
“All the policy in the world is based on energy resources, and is moved thanks to energy resources. That is why everybody tries to use gas: those who have it, those over whose territory it is transported, and those through whose territory it is not transported but could be transported,” the journalist of Kommersant Mikhail Zygar said. Together with his colleague Valery Panyushkin he dedicated the whole chapter in their book “Gazprom. Deal with Regime”. The chapter’s title is “Long live Belarus!”
Historic Project Yamal-Europe
Authors of the book describe who the story of gas relations between Russia and Belarus started. In 1994 Gazprom decided to build the Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline. The decision was connected with the desire of the concern to diversify gas streams and not to depend from Ukraine, which indebtedness for gas at that time was 900 million dollars. Around the same period Alyaksandr Lukashenka was elected Belarusian president. The authors suppose that then Gazprom directorship had no idea that the decision to construct the gas pipeline through Belarus would become a historic decision for this country. So the newly-elected president, who in a little while started to show dictatorial tendencies, received a strong strategic weapon called ‘gas’. As said by Mikhail Zygar:
“Alyaksandr Lukashenka has become the most terrifying European dictator only thanks to the fact that he sits on a gas pipeline which goes from Russia to Western Europe. If it wasn’t for this pipeline, there would be a totally different regime in Belarus”.
Political Repercussions of Economic Decisions
Very soon Alyaksandr Lukashenka started to feel his power and authority, despite of the fact that gas didn’t belong to him at all. But “blue fuel” was sent over the territory of the country, and he used it as a weapon.
“As for the simplest method of manipulating his political partners with the help of Gazprom, just look at the prices at which gas is sold to Belarus, and how an absolutely monstrous regime of Lukashenka remains in power owing to these prices. These are purely political repercussions of economic decisions taken by the company, or better to say imposed on the company”.
The first leg of the gas pipeline Yamal-Europe which goes through Belarus, has an annual capacity of 33 billion cm of gas. The book “Gazprom. Deal with Regime” informs that according to some estimates, Belarus owes about one forth of its wealth to Gazprom. The same is the proportion of Gazprom’s guilt for Belarus’ becoming the last dictatorship of Europe.