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HIGHLIGHTS-Russia's Putin on 2012, China, Ukraine

SOCHI, Russia, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The following are key quotes from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a meeting with the Valdai group of Russia experts late on Monday.

For the main story please click on [ID:nLDE6851NJ]

* ON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012:

“U.S. President (Franklin) Roosevelt was voted in four times in a row because this did not contradict the American constitution.”

“Neither I nor President (Dmitry) Medvedev will do anything which contradicts current Russian legislation or the country’s fundamental law -- the Russian constitution.”

“The Russian constitution was adopted by democratic means, and I would suggest that any processes within the framework of the fundamental law cannot by definition harm the development of the democratic process in the country.”

“How we will act in 2011 or at the start of 2012 we -- I and President Medvedev -- have said this repeatedly: we will act based on the real situation in the country, on what we have done, on the mood in society.”

* ON PERCEPTIONS OF A THREAT FROM CHINA:

“Foreign experts keep telling us about the threat from China. We are not worried at all.” [ID:nLDE6851XO]

“There is the huge Far East, Eastern Siberia, an under-populated territory. And there is powerful China, over a billion people. We should be afraid. We are not afraid.

“There is no threat on the side of China... We have co-existed with China for a thousand years. We had difficult moments, and at times better relations, but we know each other very well and we have got used to respecting each other.”

“China does not have to populate the Far East and eastern Siberia to get what it needs: natural resources.”

“We have just finished the construction of an oil pipeline. We are ready to build two gas pipelines. We will be supplying coal to them... China does not want to worsen relations with us to solve its current goals.”

* ON WHETHER TO REMOVE LENIN’S BODY FROM RED SQUARE:

“Everything in its own time. The time will come, and the Russian people will decide how to deal with it. When it comes to history there is no need to rush.” [ID:nLDE6851P7]

* ON SELLING GAS TO UKRAINE AT SUBSIDISED DOMESTIC PRICES:

“Let us form a unified economic space, unify our economic legislation -- this is not an attack on a state’s independence, it is economic common sense -- and then we can extend our internal (energy) prices to our partners.

“If we are working within unified laws, and rules of behaviour, this would be possible. But now it is not. Because our partners would produce chemical products and fertilizers with the cheap energy they bought at our domestic prices. This would compete with our goods.”

“There is no politics here, it is pure economics.”

* ON JAILED OIL TYCOON MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY:

“As far as Khodorkovsky is concerned, there was a court decision. He has been found guilty of a criminal offence and he is in prison.”

“As part of this criminal case it was established... that the head of Mr. Khodorkovsky’s security service organised murders. There are corpses on his hands, and blood.

“There was a small shop in Moscow. They came to the owner of the shop and said, give us the shop. She refused and they killed her. This was proven in court. You understand? It was proven.

“Also proven was the murder of the mayor of one of the Siberian cities where YUKOS worked.... Of course you can hypothesise that the head of the security service of Yukos worked at his own risk, simply from his love of the art.”

“Khodorkovsky was not judged for that. The head of his security service was judged, for the murders I mean. But we are not in court now, and we understand that these things are probably connected with each other.”

* ON OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS:

“I think every person has the right to express his opinion. Every person. And this right is guaranteed by the Russian constitution... But there is a law under which people who want to hold mass events must secure the permission of the authorities as to the location of that event.

“There is a group of people who do not just want to express their opinion, because if they expressed their opinion about the authorities day after day, they would stop being interesting. No one would pay any attention to them.

“They want attention at any price. How? By provoking the authorities to use force.

“I think if we let them meet where they want, on the square in Moscow, they would then realise that no one would pay them any attention and they would go to another place, to a third place. They would seek conflict with the authorities. They need this.”

“They are not a factor in the political life of the country. they don’t enjoy the support of a significant part of the population.”

Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Conor Humphries; Editing by Paul Taylor

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