MOSCOW, September 6 - RAPSI. It makes little sense to speak about Gazprom's monopoly on European gas markets; the European Commission's antimonopoly investigation is really an attempt to reduce Russian gas prices, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Energy, Pavel Zavalny, said. Zavalny, who is in charge of the gas industry, made this statement at a meeting with members of the European Parliament.

The European Commission has opened an investigation into Gazprom's alleged breach of EU antitrust legislation, the commission reported.
The commission's statement reads that it will investigate three possible anti-competition law violations in Central and Eastern Europe: impeding the free flow of gas across EU member states, preventing countries from diversifying their source of gas supply and imposing unfair prices on its customers by linking the price of natural gas to the price of oil.

The statement emphasizes that the case will be a high priority but that this does not mean any decisions have been predetermined.
The EU is concerned that Gazprom is breaching Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functions of the European Union which defines the use of market domination to influence trade between EU member countries.

"Regarding the European Commission's investigation into Gazprom's business practices, for those who don't know, I will tell you that Russian gas accounts for only 26 percent of the EU's purchases and that Europe buys gas from Norway, Algeria and Qatar, as well as from Russia. This is why it's silly to say Gazprom monopolizes the European gas market," Zavalny said while responding to a European Parliament delegate.

"I think all of this is really the European Commission's attempt to reduce Russian gas prices," the deputy said.