Russia's natural gas firm Gazprom is seeking at least a threefold increase in the price for gas sold to Belarus next year.

The firm's deputy chairman, Alexander Ryazanov, said Tuesday that the two sides will negotiate a price but stressed that the hike would be an economic decision, not a political one.

He said Belarus is the only member of the Commonwealth of Independent States not paying market prices for Russian gas.

Ryazanov said Belarus now pays about $47 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas. The world price stands at about $230 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Earlier this year, Gazprom temporarily shut off gas supplies to Ukraine when Kiev initially refused to pay a sharp hike in prices.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.