MOSCOW, March 19 - RAPSI. Russian energy giant Gazprom claims it did not offer to bail Cyprus out in return for gas exploration licenses in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone, a company official told RAPSI's sister agency Prime Business News.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov firmly refuted the allegation.

Cyprus's Sigma TV has reported that representatives of the Russian company submitted the proposal to the office of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday evening. The proposal states that Gazprom will fund the restructuring of the country's crippled financial institutions in exchange for substantial control over its gas resources, a plan that would allow Cyprus to reject the harsh bailout package offered by the EU.

Cyprus earlier accepted the 10 billion rescue package from the EU, which was offered on the condition that Cyprus raise 5.8 billion ($7.5 billion) by levying a 9.9% tax on accounts exceeding 100,000 and 6.75% on anything below that.

The creditors reduced the bailout package from billion to 10 billion for fear that growing debt would push the republic into a default, and demanded that Cyprus contribute to its salvation by restructuring bank deposits.

Mr. Anastasiades delayed an emergency parliamentary vote on the bailout plan until Tuesday. There is a rumor that the vote could be delayed again until as late as Friday.
Cyprus, whose banking system is on the verge of collapse, is the fifth nation in the 17-member Euro zone to seek financial assistance since the crisis broke out.