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President Putin (file photo) (epa)
29 December 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says a dispute with Ukraine over gas prices has turned into a "real crisis."
Putin made his remarks today during a meeting in Moscow with negotiators from both countries.
"You -- and I am talking both to Russian and Ukrainian participants of this meeting -- have simply caused a real crisis, and not only in the energy field. This crisis looks like a crisis between two countries, and that is very bad."
He is also reported to have proposed lending Ukraine $3.6 billion to help pay for a planned increase in Russian gas prices.
Putin's remarks come as talks continued in Moscow aimed at settling the dispute.
Russia wants to more than quadruple the price it charges Ukraine for gas at the start of 2006, bringing it into line with world market rates. Ukraine wants price increases to be phased in gradually over several years.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko today said that Russia's asking price for gas is unacceptable. He also promised Ukrainians that they won't go cold this winter.
If an agreement isn't reached, gas supplies to Ukraine could be shut off on 1 January.
On December 16, 2005, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a panel discussion on the 4 December Moscow City Duma elections
, which have been widely seen as a preview of the 2007 national legislative elections.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA is the official representative of the liberal Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) in Washington, D.C., and a co-founder of Free Choice 2008. Kara-Murza described the elections as an "exciting time" for Russian liberals, emphasizing the "breakthrough" achieved when the SPS and the Yabloko party ran a joint list of candidates and secured seats on the city council.
Listen to Kara-Murza's complete presentation (about 10 minutes).
Real Audio Windows Media
ANDREI PIONTKOVSKII is the executive director of the Moscow-based Strategic Studies Center and a member of Yabloko's Federal Council. In his presentation, Piontkovskii emphasized that liberal values are under assault in the Russia of President Vladimir Putin and analyzed the importance of the SPS-Yabloko cooperation.
Listen to Piontkovskii's complete presentation (about 10 minutes).
Real Audio Windows Media
The Moscow City Duma Election -- A Case Of Managed Democracy
A Turning Point For Russia's Liberal Parties?