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© RIA Novosti. Aleksey Nikolskyi

Putin, bikers and energy deals

by at 24/03/2011 18:27


The prime minister rekindled his passion for leather and roaring engines as he met with bikers on Wednesday as part of his Serbian tour.

Vladimir Putin discussed energy deals and loans as he received a friendly reception in the Balkan state.

But it was a trip to a football match with Serbian and Macedonian members of the Night Wolves bike lovers which caught the eye.


Brotherhood of bikers

The PM rekindled relations with Serbian and Macedonian members of the band at a stadium, with spectators holding portraits of him and chanting ‘Russia!’

He had met Night Wolves’ leader Alexander Zaldostanov, or the Surgeon, in Ukraine last summer at the 14th international biker show of its kind.

“Together with the Russian side, we have an idea to hold a bike show in 2014, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I and in honour of the Russian Expeditionary Force and Serbs killed during those years,” biker Goran Jovanovic said on Wednesday. He said he had lost a leg in the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

Putin told his colleagues in Ukraine last summer that the bike was a symbol of freedom and addressed the assembled easy riders as “brothers”.


Healing divisions

Russia is one of 69 countries that does not recognise the succession of Kosovo from Serbia, an issue that brings the two countries closer together.

Putin said Russia's position is based on the UN Security Council’s resolution 1244, which recognises Serbia’s territorial integerity.

Putin said Russia was happy to help in negotiations, “Any negotiations are better than warfare, brawls and disputes. We welcome this in all possible ways, and if need be, will support this process,” Putin said.


Investment possibilities

President Boris Tadic said Serbia is interested in Russian investors and added that the two countries can actively cooperate in agriculture.

“We are interested in selling our agricultural products to Russia, we are open to Russian products, and I think here we can find great opportunities for trade turnover,” he said.

In turn Putin said that Russian energy giant Gazprom’s oil arm Gazprom Neft invested $290 million in Serbia in 2010, and plans to invest another $500 million this year.

“Last year, we granted a $200-million loan to support the [Serbian] budget, and now we are considering an $800-million package to finance specific projects, which are being studied now,” Putin added, RIA Novosti reported.


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