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Ministry accuses state-owned companies of anti-monopoly practices
MOSCOW - In an unprecedented move, the Ministry for Antimonopoly Policy (MAP) launched legal proceedings on Dec. 22 against three major state-owned, energy-related structures, including the Federal Energy Commission (FEC), Gazprom and Mezhregiongaz. The hearing has been slated for Jan 15, 2004. A ministry statement said the action was initiated in accordance with the law on competition and monopolistic limitations on the local financial market based an application filed by three regional gas-distributing stations, Vremya Novostei reports. The applicants claim that Gazprom and Mezhregiongaz have blocked their access to gas sales business, limiting their activities only to transportation, while the FEC did nothing to remedy the situation. MAP has so far declined to give detailed information on the case, but experts say the bone of contention started when Gazprom changed its system of gas distribution, leaving the above-mentioned companies out as unnecessary intermediaries. One possible reason for action, according to experts, was that Gazprom was not satisfied with the regional companies’ operations due to imperfect revenue-collecting systems. However, FEC representatives said they view separating sales and transportation functions in the gas sector as the start of reform in the industry. They also expressed dismay at latest decision taken by the MAP, which had never expressed any particular attitude towards the reform.
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