Political observers are trying to determine the cause of the latest energy-supply spat between Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Some see a connection to a Customs Union comprising Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Others believe it was nothing more than a PR stunt undertaken by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev in order to fuel his presidential ambitions.
The fuel supply crisis began in late May, just weeks before the new Customs Union was scheduled to enter into effect on July 1. Faced with domestic shortages, Kazakhstan banned the export of refined petroleum products and asked its union partners to do the same. By mid-July, as Kyrgyz reserves ran dry, petrol prices increased sharply in Bishkek and elsewhere. Meanwhile, Gazprom Oil Asia, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom, which runs a network of gas stations in Kyrgyzstan, began rationing fuel to customers. Gazprom supplies almost 70 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s petrol, according to Jumakadyr Akeneev, the head of Kyrgyzstan’s Oil Traders Association.
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Bakyt Ibraimov contributed reporting.