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Putin: State Purchase Of Yukos Asset 'Normal' --> 23 December 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today strongly defended the purchase of Yukos oil company assets by a state-owned firm.

Putin told a news conference that the state, using absolutely legal, market mechanisms, is "ensuring its interests."

"Today, the state -- using absolutely legal, market mechanisms -- is ensuring its interests," Putin said. "I consider this perfectly normal."

He insisted that the 100 percent state-owned oil company Rosneft's purchase of the Yukos stake "was done in absolute conformity with market means."

Corporate maneuvering climaxed yesterday with an announcement that Rosneft had bought an obscure company that several days ago purchased Yukos oil company's Yuganskneftegaz production unit.

The deal evidently enabled Kremlin takeover of the huge oil company following a relentless 18-month official crackdown. Putin's deputy chief of staff and confidant, Igor Sechin, is Rosneft's chairman of the board.