An employee passes near a pipe at a gas compressor station in the village of Boyarka, outside Kiev, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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The EU launched a legal attack on Gazprom Wednesday, stoking tension with Moscow as it accused the Russian gas giant of overcharging buyers in Eastern Europe and hindering competition.The EU's new antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, who a week ago announced a similar market abuse prosecution against U.S. tech giant Google, said state-controlled Gazprom was using its continued dominance in Moscow's old Soviet client states to hike prices by as much as 40 percent over the norm.It could do so, she said, by insisting on contracts that bar customers selling on gas to others, notably across borders – in itself a hindrance of free markets that broke EU law and has been an obstacle to EU efforts to supply Ukraine. Gazprom has 12 weeks to respond to the charges and Vestager stressed that a negotiated settlement, under which it would amend its practices, was still possible.
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