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...AND DENIES THAT RUSSIA SEEKS TO BE 'ENERGY SUPERPOWER.' Speaking to a group of journalists and academics at Novo Ogaryovo near Moscow on September 11, President Putin denied that Russia seeks to be an "energy superpower" that bullies other countries, Britain's "The Independent" reported. He said that such a term is a throwback to the Cold War. He argued that "the world has an interest in stability of supplies and in the development of a stable Russia. That's our goal, too, and reflects our own interests as well." Referring to Russia's energy agreements with other countries, he said that "we just want negotiations that are fair. We don't need superpower status.... We have huge energy potential that is still underestimated...but we have always behaved responsibly and intend to continue doing so." Among his several barbs at the European Union and the United States, Putin suggested that those who use the term "energy superpower" are, in effect, attempting to revive the Cold War concept of the "evil empire." Turning to other aspects of world affairs, he asked rhetorically why it is that one sees only Kurdish and not Iraqi flags flying in northern Iraq. Putin also noted that "some people, including Western secret services, suspect that Russia and China may be cooking up something between themselves." He argued, however, that Moscow and Beijing are not interested in forming a "military-political bloc" and said that he "did not anticipate" that anyone would think so. Closer to home, he unexpectedly praised Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko as a "wise politician" for his recent compromise with Viktor Yanukovych, who is now prime minister. PM

HAS OUR UKRAINE BEGUN TO SPLIT OVER STANCE ON RULING COALITION? The Reform and Orders Party (PRP), a constituent of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc, has announced that it is switching to the opposition with regard to the current government and the "anticrisis coalition" that supports the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, UNIAN reported on September 11. "The coming to power of such forces as the Party or Regions (PRU) and the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) testifies to the existence of a direct threat to democracy, the national-cultural self-identification and development of the nation, and fundamental principles of the Ukrainian statehood," the PRP said in a statement. According to the statement, the current government presents a danger of revising "the state-language status, the unitary character of the state, [the state's] foreign-policy course, and the fundamentals of civic society." Our Ukraine leaders are now in talks with the PRU, the KPU, and the Socialist Party on signing an expanded coalition agreement with them. Our Ukraine, although it has several ministers in the cabinet, is not a signatory to the anticrisis coalition accord signed by these three parties in July. JM