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Putin Insists Moscow-St. Petersburg Highway Must Be Built

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said Russia must go ahead with plans to build a Moscow-St. Petersburg highway.

But Putin did not specify whether he would support the highway's controversial proposed route through the Khimki forest outside of the capital.

"We need a new highway to connect Russia's two largest cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow. That is absolutely clear, it is important for the economy and for common citizens," Putin said.

"The question is what route this road is going to take, and that is, of course, a serious question."

Putin's remarks come a day after President Dmitry Medvedev suspended the project, which environmentalists have protested for years.

On August 22, some 2,000 people attended an unsanctioned concert in Moscow protesting plans to build the highway through the Khimki forest.

Putin's ruling United Russia party this week called for construction to be halted pending further studies.

compiled from agency reports