Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Europeans 'afraid of tomorrow'

Russia and Ukraine appear to be nearing an accommodation that would allow them to resume gas deliveries, but it will still be days before supplies are back to normal.

BBC news website readers in Central and Eastern Europe continue to suffer shortages and have little faith in the future.


Apostol Dyankov
The central heating system in Sofia is working again since Sunday. Now it's using fuel oil. This has made a slight improvement, though I am still using an electric heater as well.

Today is one of the coldest days that we've had lately - right now it's -10C. Fuel oil is very polluting and it instantly created a smog, that is not going away. The whole of Sofia is covered in smog, it's hard to see and difficult to breathe.

Lots of factories have switched over to fuel oil. I am an ecologist and I can tell you that there will be environmental consequences, we don't know the whole impact yet.

Fuel oil is not stored locally, so it had to be transported throughout the country and the mess it leaves behind will take years to clean.

In the last few days it was widely reported that Ukraine has agreed to send some of its own gas to Bulgaria, but that deal never materialised because of technical issues.

There's a lot of anger among people and everyone is preparing for the national protest which will take place on Wednesday.


Peter Stano
Slovakia is one of the countries most affected by the gas crisis. We depend entirely on Russian gas.

What helped us in this situation is that we have some reserves, so most people haven't felt the effects of the gas shut-off.

The problem is that the economy will suffer and ours is one of the fastest-growing economies of Europe. Three car factories - Kia, Peugeot and Volkswagen, have reduced their operation.

Two steel factories have almost stopped production and many others are going that way too. Lots of workers are sent home on an unpaid leave.

The car industry is the biggest earner for Slovakia. We make money by export and now our production has been reduced.

If this situation continues, it will get really bad for the economy.

Public opinion here is divided as to who's to blame for the current situation - Ukraine or Russia. Everyone agrees on one thing though - that we should stop relying exclusively on Russian gas.


Nella Shishkova
I am not sending my son to kindergarten because they have a reduced heating. My husband had to take leave to look after him. They said that the heating in the kindergarten is on again, though it might take a while for the rooms to warm-up.

The central heating is working again with fuel oil in Sofia. I heard on the news that the effect on the environment will be like a two-fold increase in traffic.

All the taxis and lots of private cars run on gas, which is not available. Many factories have closed, letting their workers with no job and no money. People are very worried.

I know they've reached some kind of deal now, but the last time they said they reached a deal, something happened and there were problems again. There are views expressed in the media that Russia and Ukraine will never reach a long-standing agreement and people just don't know where the truth is.


Leana Lugic
It feels like the siege again in Sarajevo. It hasn't been fun to be reminded of the worst four years of our lives and what it is to be dependant on others to maintain some normality in our lives.

We got our heating back on Saturday, after a few very cold days. We are grateful for a deal with Serbia and Germany, so for now we've got gas and hopefully, the gas flow from Russia will soon resume.

The whole thing makes me feel angry. The European institutions should have reacted much quicker.


Liubov Zdrazhevskaya
We have got heating at home and the gas cooker works fine, but things are not looking good for the future.

The information we get from our government changes every day. One day they tell us we have enough gas for a month, the next day we hear the gas will last us only for 10 days and then they try to assure us that we haven't got a gas problem. How can I trust them?

I hear various things from friends and I've figured out that there is gas shortage and that if we don't start getting Russian gas soon, we will be in trouble.

We are scared of what will happen tomorrow
Some schools are not being heated and the kids sit in the classrooms with thEIr coats on. Some of my friends have had their heating reduced for days now. I've even heard about pipes breaking because of the freezing water in them.

We are scared of what will happen tomorrow. What's going on between the RussianS and our government - it's not some commercial dispute. It's political. But we are the victims of it and we feel trapped.


We don't rely as heavily on gas from Russia, as other countries in the region. We have our own gas and because of that we are not directly affected. Private homes are mostly unaffected and industries have switched to alternative fuels.

Only the town of Peteste, as I've been hearing on the news, which is not far away from Bucharest, has had reduced heating. It's a very bad time for this, as we've had a very cold weather - it's been -10C for days.

We are worried, of course, we may have reserves, but that isn't a permanent solution. We hope gas gets flowing soon, because our factories can't run on coal and fuel oil forever. We do need Russian gas!

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