The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Putin happy with meet despite clash

Bratislava (Slovakia), Feb. 25 (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin said today he was satisfied with the results of a summit in the Slovak capital with President George W. Bush despite a clash over Moscow's democratic credentials.

'I am satisfied with the meeting and with the results of the meeting,' Putin said following talks with his Slovak counterpart, Ivan Gasparovic.

Yesterday, Bush warned Putin in a face-to-face meeting against backsliding on democracy in Russia in what both sides called a frank debate at the Bratislava summit.

But Bush also assured the Russian President he was still a trusted partner of the US and Putin said his country would not go back on the democratic path. Putin said his frank discussion with Bush was useful although he made clear Russia did not accept being lectured by the West on how to run its affairs.

'The meeting was very positive both in terms of its atmosphere and the choice of topics,' Putin added.

Western civil rights campaigners accuse Putin of restricting democracy by abolishing the election of provincial governors, pursuing a vendetta against the Yukos oil company and tightening the Kremlin's grip on the media.

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