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Official website of the President of Russia

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President Putin held a news conference

December 15, 2000, Havana

Mr Putin said he was satisfied with the results of his talks in Havana. He added that it was imperative to increase political contacts, solve the problems that had accumulated over the last few years and define the high-priority aspects of economic cooperation in order to expand Russian-Cuban relations.

The President said there were many unresolved economic problems. He said bilateral relations had long had the wrong priorities. Moscow and Havana should do something about incomplete construction projects. Mr Putin stressed that Russia had spent about $30 million on mothballing the incomplete Juragua nuclear power plant, and that this was not the only facility. President Putin said Russian and Cuban experts would soon examine these issues.

Speaking of political relations, Mr Putin said Russian and Cuban positions on most international issues were either similar or identical. This concerned the observance of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as well as the concept of “humanitarian intervention”, which both parties opposed. Likewise, Russia and Cuba were working to promote a balanced world and a reduction in the gap between poor and rich countries. President Putin stressed that there was no Russian-Cuban alliance spearheaded against third countries, including the United States.

Mr Putin also said that a Russian-US memorandum on missile-launch early-warning data could be signed either today or in the next few days. Russia and the United States are continuing their positive security dialogue, the President stressed.

Speaking about the decision to pardon US citizen Edmond Pope, who was charged with espionage by Russian authorities, Mr Putin said the court had proved Pope’s guilt, and there was no reason to doubt the verdict. However, secret service operations should not damage relations between states, especially Russian-US relations, the President said.

When asked about Vladimir Gusinsky, whom the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office is attempting to extradite from Spain, the President said Gusinsky was charged with economic crimes, and that this issue had to be settled by law-enforcement agencies and judicial bodies.

The head of state also discussed capital flight from Russia. Instead of banning legal capital exports, we must create favourable conditions in Russia, the President stressed.

The Russian President told the news conference that he had a positive opinion of the national Government’s actions and the critical remarks made by Presidential Adviser Andrei Illarionov on the restructuring of utility giant Unified Energy Systems. Although the Government is trying to achieve positive results and must not be rushed, this does not mean that the Cabinet of Ministers is working to the best of its ability and cannot be criticised, the President said.

He added that Government leaders and Mr Illarionov shared the same views, but that a presidential adviser could take more liberties and had the right to criticise the Government’s performance.

December 15, 2000, Havana