ratfaced rodent takes the high moral ground

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    This is funny - Amerika is the new Soviet.

    Putin slams West over 'double standards' in Iraq and Ukraine

    Thu Dec 23, 8:31 AM ET Mideast - AFP

    MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) hit out at the West's "double-standards" amid a Cold-War-style dispute over Ukrainian elections, accusing it of fomenting "permanent revolutions" in Moscow's backyard.

    Putin again slammed US-led plans to press ahead with elections next month in Iraq (news - web sites) and said it was the height of hypocrisy for Western governments to criticise Russia for pursuing its interests in neighbouring former Soviet republics.

    "Today according to our estimates there are nine cities in Iraq where there are hostilities but they still want to carry out elections," he said, condemning European elections monitors' plans to observe the poll from Jordan as a "farce".

    "We do not understand how there can be an election in a country under conditions of total occupation... It's absurd. It's a farce. Everything is upside down."

    The Russian leader said it was "complete nonsense" to accuse Moscow of trying to "devour" its smaller neighbours in the former Soviet sphere of influence, referring to countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan during a wide-ranging annual press conference.

    He said "permanent revolutions" such as the so-called "orange revolution" of West-leaning Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko risked plunging the region into "endless conflict".

    Yushchenko is favoured to win a repeat presidential election on Sunday after an earlier poll which was clinched by Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was annulled due to massive fraud.

    "It's extremely dangerous trying to resolve political problems outside the framework of the law, first the 'rose revolution', then they'll think up of something like blue," Putin said.

    "If you have permanent revolutions you risk plunging the post-Soviet space into endless conflict," he said, referring also to the so-called "rose revolution" in neighbouring Georgia in late 2003, won by US-educated President Mikhail Saakashvili.

    Even so Putin said Moscow would "respect the will of the Ukrainian people" in Sunday's election.

    "We hope that the national interests triumph over the political expediency of some," he said.

    "We will work with any leader in Ukraine, but we expect that in the entourage of Viktor Yushchenko there will not be people who build their political ambitions on anti-Russian slogans."

    Putin has previously accused the West of pursuing neo-colonialist objectives in eastern Europe and his latest comments mark an escalation in Moscow's rhetoric against perceived Western meddling in traditional Russian affairs.

    He said he would raise concerns that the United States is trying to "isolate" Russia when he meets US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) early next year.

    But the Russian president otherwise praised the strength of US-Russian relations, especially in the fight against terrorism.

    "The United States is one of our high priority partners. We happen to be natural partners in resolving several acute problems these days, especially combating terrorism," he said.

    "I would describe our relations not as a partnership but as an alliance."

    Putin also defended Moscow's efforts to retake control of the country's energy sector amid international concerns that post-communist economic reforms were being rolled back.

    State-owned firm Rosneft, in surprise late-night announcement Wednesday, revealed it had bought control of the major asset of the Yukos energy giant, owned by imprisoned billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his associates.

    The deal -- the first renationalisation of the post-Soviet era -- cements Kremlin control of the strategic energy sector after almost 18 months of attacks on Yukos.

    "Today the state, using absolutely legal market mechanisms, is protecting its interests. I consider that absolutely normal," Putin said.

    He also dismissed fears from the liberal or free-market wing of his government that the Russian economy was slowing because of state intervention, saying it the outlook was "clearly positive."

    Gross domestic product should grow by 6.8 percent this year and this would be "about in line with average growth in the last five years," he said.
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