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Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Europeans growing angry over gas

Despite an apparent agreement on Monday to resume Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, no gas is flowing to Central and Eastern European countries.

The ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine has put a strain on vulnerable economies at a time of economic downturn.

Here readers from affected countries describe the effects the gas crisis is having on their lives and urge governments to rethink their energy strategy.

MARIA DROGANOVA, TIRASPOL, TRANS-DNIESTER

Maria Droganova
The situation in Trans-Dniester has been very bad for more than a week. We got our heating back this morning, a week after it was turned off. And we are still without gas for cooking. We can't cook anything now and what we eat reminds me of the student days.

We had a bread crisis at the beginning of the week. People started buying bread in panic as there were fears that the bakeries will stop working. There were long queues for bread in the morning and then you couldn't find bread anywhere.

The vacation for schoolchildren has been extended until next week. My mum is a teacher and she goes to school only to do admin work.

More and more people are getting sick. Pharmacists say they've been selling more medicine for cold and flu.

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine is continuing and people are very angry. People say that it hasn't been so bad for 40 years. As our region is very pro-Russian, everyone blames Ukraine for our suffering.

MIRZA TROZIC, SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA

The people of Bosnia are very grateful to President Tadic of Serbia for sending us gas when we urgently needed it. Thanks to him we are no longer without heating.

I live in the old part of town and during the freeze I had to go to friends' houses to have shower. I wanted to buy an electric heater, but they were sold out. So my mum, who lives in another part of Bosnia sent me one by post.

I am a university student and our university was closed because of lack of heating. We were supposed to have a study week before the exams, but that didn't happen.

People are now using more coal, wood and fuel oil and it has made a difference to the air. After spending a while outside my hair and clothes get a bad smell.

We have a smog alert, which happens every year, as Sarajevo lies in a valley, but apparently this year is much worse.

People here are reminded of the siege, when they didn't have heating, electricity and hot water. So this situation brings up bad memories.

JERZY WOJCICKI, VINNYTSIA, UKRAINE

Jerzy Wojcicki
I am not worried at all about this gas crisis. People in some parts of the country, especially in big cities, have had a reduced heating. Some heating systems are now running on fuel oil.

Each town has its own reservoirs, that's why we are not affected in Vinnytsia. We have plenty of gas and the whole of Ukraine has enough gas to last us for two months.

The thing is, we have this dispute with Russia every year, so people are prepared for this situation. We've got large reserves and individual households are also equipped with electric heaters and stoves.

And we have our own gas in Ukraine. We've been using Russian gas for many years, because it was very cheap. But now we need to rethink the situation and make ourselves more self-sufficient.

NIKOLAI PENKOV, SOFIA, BULGARIA

Nikolai Penkov
After much of Sofia lost its heating, the heating is back on, working with fuel oil. It's not ideal, but at least we are warm.

We've had a week with power cuts, as increased demand put pressure on electric grids.

Fuel oil is very polluting and the air around Sofia is dirty. There are calls for people not to use their personal cars to minimise the impact on the environment.

The gas crisis is going to have a really bad effect on the economy. Many factories have closed or work at a minimum.

Bulgaria is having a tough time now anyway. The EU recently froze funds for Bulgaria, the country is suffering the consequences of the economic downturn and just when you thought that's bad enough, its people were left in the cold.

Our government is very pro-Russian and they've signed contracts with Gazprom, committing us to higher prices each year, while not being able to guarantee delivery in return.

People are angry. Tension has been building up for a while and it's hardly surprising that there was violence and destruction at the protests yesterday.

FERNANDO BARBOSA, PRESOV, SLOVAKIA

Fernando Barbosa
The more days go by, the more aware people become of the problems this situation could bring. And they are becoming more and more worried.

Our biggest problem is the impact this is going to have on the economy. Major factories have closed - Kia and Peugeot have stopped production temporarily. There's a limit on the use of gas for smaller businesses.

Our president wants to restart the nuclear reactor, which was closed as a condition for EU entry. I think that if the situation escalates, this could be a good short-term solution, though I doubt the EU will agree to it.

The lesson for the future is to have several sources of gas. Russia has the monopoly and they are using it to demonstrate their power. No hard-feelings towards Russia, but we have to find other alternatives.

RENARS SPAKS, RIGA, LATVIA

Renars Spaks
Our country relies exclusively on Russian gas, though unlike other European countries, we are not affected by the ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

For us energy is not an immediate, but more a long-term problem.

It is worrying to see what's happening in central and eastern Europe right now.

Our perspective on Russia is quite different from that of western European countries. We used to be part of the socialist bloc and we are suspicious of everything the Russians do.

They are demonstrating again that they can and will use energy resources for political reasons.

We pay for our gas and the gas prices go up each year. We would like to be less dependant on Russian gas. Our alternative would be to use more nuclear energy, but the EU is not happy about that.

Interviews conducted by Krassimira Twigg.

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