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Putin: Russia not to seek gas deal revision if opposition comes to power in Ukraine
Russia will not initiate a revision of its gas agreements with Ukraine, which has been hit by anti-government protests, even if the opposition in that country comes to power, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference after the Russia-EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday.
"Will we revise our agreements on loans and energy if the opposition takes over? We will not, it is not important for us," he said.
Russia reduced the natural gas price for its neighbor to $268 from some $400 per 1,000 cubic meters and decided to provide Ukraine with a $15 billion loan in December 2013 after Kiev refused to sign an association agreement with the EU at a summit in Vilnius in November and decided to seek closer ties with Russia instead.
Putin said Tuesday the Russian government had held "very constructive dialogue" with the Ukrainian government when it was led by Yulia Timoshenko.
"We agreed on everything with her," the Russian leader said. "It is not a taboo for us to speak to representatives of all political forces in Ukraine."
A Ukrainian court sentenced Timoshenko in 2011 to seven years in prison for abuse of power over a 2009 gas deal with Russia that the current Ukrainian authorities said was unprofitable for the country.
Putin also stressed on Tuesday that the Russian side wanted the Ukrainian economy to be credit-worthy, and to be able to generate a positive effect and hold structural reforms.
"We need guarantees that we will get back our resources," he said. "Despite our gold and currency reserves, government reserves, $15 billion is what the entire IMF planned to give Ukraine. Russia gave it alone, and we want to be sure the funds will return."
Putin said the economic policies pursued in Ukraine were more important than which exactly political forces were at the country's helm to conduct them.
A wave of anti-government protests erupted more than a week ago in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to spread across Ukraine after parliament passed a set of laws on violations of public order. Protesters across the country stormed and seized a number of government buildings demanding the resignation of the ruling authorities.
Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, who led Ukraine's cabinet of ministers since December 13, 2012, tendered his resignation Tuesday. President Viktor Yanukovich accepted it, the head of state's press service reported.
Putin also said Russia's financial aid to Ukraine was not for a particular Ukrainian government but for the Ukrainian nation.
He recalled a Ukrainian saying: "When masters fall out their men get the clout," which means, he said, that ordinary people suffer. The Russian leader said he would like to reduce that burden on Ukrainian nationals.
[Source: Itar Tass, Brussels, 28Jan14]
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