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Putin: Summit will be nothing special

IN AN interview with the public service Slovak Radio February 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he does not think that the summit with his US counterpart George Bush in Bratislava will be anything special.

He said that they are in regular contact with each other.

Putin rejected criticism from the West of a "democracy deficit" in Russia. He said that western countries have similar problems to Russia.

Putin plans to discuss the situation in Iraq with Bush, as well Iran and North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

The Russian president claimed that Slovakia's joining NATO and European Union had not had a negative impact on Russian-Slovak relations.

However, he acknowledged the statement from Moscow that NATO enlargement is not justified, asking how this enlargement helps to fight terrorism or the problem of spreading nuclear weapons.

He said that Russia would not join the alliance because it does not need it.

While still discussing Russian-Slovak issues, Putin admitted that he knows nothing about Slovakia wanting the return of 49 percent shares of Transpetrol, owned by the Russian oil giant Yukos.

The Slovak Economy Minister Pavol Rusko proposed the step several weeks ago after Yukos' conflict with the state resulted in serious problems for the company.

Concerning the changes in post-communist countries Putin said that the countries "have to and can decide freely on their fates".

He revealed, though, he did not like the way Ukraine and Georgia handled their situations.

Putin also proposed solving the Chechnya conflict through political dialogue and economic development.

Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports

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