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Kremlin Official Rejects Cheney Comments

Vice President Dick Cheney in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 5 (epa) May 8, 2006 -- Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko says the world's leading industrialized countries should accept that Russia is committed to democracy and abandon what he calls "Cold War ghosts."

In a commentary published in today's "Financial Times" newspaper, Khristenko rejected allegations by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that Russia is using its vast energy reserves to exert political pressure.

Russia, which is due to host a summit of the Group of Eight (G8) countries in July in St. Petersburg, raised international concerns early this year when it briefly halted gas supplies to Ukraine during a price dispute.

Separately, in an interview with the German newspaper "Bild," U.S. President George W. Bush said Russia has sent "mixed signals" that have caused the U.S. government to question whether the country is committed to becoming a true democracy with freedom of the press, freedom of religion and other freedoms.

According to a White House transcript of the interview, Bush said the United States was concerned about Russia using oil companies to achieve what appears to be political goals.

(AP, Reuters)

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