Moscow, Feb 27 (UNI) Putin-backed presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev has said Serbia's participation in the South Stream project was an act of Russian support for Serbia over Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.
''It is an element of our support, including moral, material and economic, to a state which has found itself in a very difficult position and which unfortunately, due to the will of some other countries is being doubted as a single territorial entity,'' Mr Medvedev told mediapersons during his campaign visit in the Volga-Urals Federal District.
''Its legal status as an entity, in this sense, has been violated and measures are being taken to divide it into parts,'' he stressed.
Russia and Serbia signed a draft agreement in Belgrade on Monday in the presence of Mr Medvedev and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to build a gas pipeline for the transit of Russian natural gas through the Balkan country.
Mr Medvedev, who is widely tipped to win the presidential election on March 2, is also chairman of the Board of the state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, which proposed and leads the project.
The presidential candidate said taking Serbia on board was an important issue ''making the project feasible, complete, fruitful and mutually beneficial.'' The agreement signed in Belgrade is scheduled to result in a contract tomorrow.
Another contract on the South Stream project will also be signed with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsan following talks with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
The project is planned to transport 10 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually across the Black Sea, with the first deliveries scheduled for 2013.
It was proposed by Gazprom and Italy's Eni and is a rival project to the Nabucco pipeline backed by the EU and the US which will transport Central Asian gas to Europe via Turkey bypassing Russia.
Nabucco, which is due to go on line by 2011, will involve Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
UNI XC SKB AS1541