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Gazprom and the snarling bear

The Kremlin's taste for using energy assets to play politics and concentrate power is worryingly reminiscent of the Soviet era. What is Putin's next move?

By Anthony Robinson   February 2006

Lenin defined communism as “Soviet power plus electrification of the entire country.” Vladimir Putin takes a similar view. An updated slogan for Putin’s regime might read “Kremlin power plus control of the oil and gas industry.”

Europe received a taste of how the Kremlin might wield that power at the start of the new year when Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas company, reduced the pressure on pipelines carrying gas through Ukraine to western Europe. The decision to end subsidies to Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states may have been Russia’s legitimate right. But the take-it-or-leave-it style, the…

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