Everything was done by the book – that was the Russian president’s verdict on the state’s acquisition of the main production unit of the Yukos oil company. Vladimir Putin gave his views on this and other keynote policy issues during his traditional end-of-year press conference. He said the purchase of Yuganskneftgas by the state-owned company Rosneft was in line with free market principles.
“Any company which is 100 per cent owned by the state can, like any other company, can participate in this kind of auction,” he said. Yukos had mounted a legal challenge to try to prevent a Russian state company from taking part in the auction of Yugansk. Baikal, a firm with suspected links to the Kremlin, eventually put in the winning bid.In the news conference Putin also reaffirmed he would not be running for a third term in office, countering speculation that he might move to extend his rule. He said he was not thinking of his future beyond 2008, but that he regarded the question of a successor as a serious one.