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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 13:49 GMT
Oil tops Chavez talks in Russia
President Chavez (left) with President Putin in Moscow
Chavez (left) and Putin plan to boost trade in oil and arms
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has met Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss co-operation between their huge energy industries.

The visit is expected to result in an agreement on a joint venture between Russian oil giant Lukoil and the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA.

Lukoil plans to invest $1bn in the development of oilfields in north-east Venezuela.

Both Russia and Venezuela are among the world's top five oil producers.

The presidents are also to discuss military co-operation and sign a protocol concerning Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Venezuela is a WTO member, so its consent is needed for Russia to join.

Lukoil's refinery
Lukoil is Russia's second-largest oil producer
The Russian media have devoted much space to perceived similarities between the two countries and their leaders.

"The fact that these are two oil-addicted economies is the most obvious parallel," comments Maxim Yusin of Russia's Kommersant newspaper.

"Most budget revenues come from oil and - in Russia's case - gas, which allows both countries to benefit from high oil prices and direct revenues to the public sector without undertaking reforms," he says.

Both leaders are seen as ex-colonels with an authoritarian style.

But Yusin says that while Mr Chavez is "a skilled orator, demagogue and populist", Mr Putin is "an unemotional secret service man".

Mr Chavez also faces a strong opposition just waiting to topple him, while Mr Putin has no such problems, Yusin adds.


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