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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chavez Prefers Russian Oil and Lenin

APChavez being greeted with bread and salt during a visit to the Rostov Helicopter Plant in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday.
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Moscow Region -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took several parting shots at the United States as he wrapped up a visit to Moscow on Friday, suggesting that he preferred Russian oil companies to U.S. ones and that life was more than Superman.

Chavez arrived in Moscow last week amid widespread speculation that he wanted to sign a major arms deal, and President Vladimir Putin said the weapons trade was among the topics of talks late Thursday when he met with Chavez. On Saturday, Chavez stopped by the Rostov Helicopter Plant in Rostov-on-Don. But no announcements were made about any military deals during the three-day visit.

Chavez told Russian business leaders on Friday that he expected development of a "road map" that would boost and diversify Russian-Venezuelan business ties -- especially in the energy sector, including construction of a natural gas pipeline and oil refineries.

"We are very satisfied with the presence of Russian companies in our oil industry, and will do our best to develop this cooperation further," he said in an address to the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said that at dinner Thursday night with Putin, they had agreed to create a fund to support joint projects. With Russia's help, Venezuela is ready to build four oil refineries and plans another 13, he said.

He also invited Russian oil companies to help develop the Orinoco River basin, recognized as the world's single-largest known oil deposit, potentially holding 1.2 trillion barrels of extra-heavy crude.

U.S. giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips refused to sign deals last week to keep pumping heavy oil under tougher terms in the basin, signaling their departure from the deposit as Chavez tightens state control over the oil industry.

Other major oil companies Chevron of the United States, Britain's BP, France's Total and Norway's Statoil accepted the terms, taking new minority stakes.

Chavez, who has called U.S. President George W. Bush a devil, a donkey and a drunkard, again lambasted the United States and its "imperialist" policies.

"U.S. companies act like Count Dracula, like vampires bleeding our country dry," he said.

Chavez urged Russian companies to invest in construction of an 8,000-kilometer natural gas pipeline to Argentina, retrofitting Venezuela's dilapidated seaports, and developing its gold mining and chemical and industries.

"For the Americas, Venezuela is like Russia for Europe and Asia -- a source of oil and natural gas," Chavez said.

Both Venezuela and Russia have revisited contracts signed in the 1990s with major oil companies, and slapped back tax claims on private companies.

At the Thursday night talks with Putin, Chavez told the president about the opening of a Venezuelan cultural center named for the South American revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar earlier that day in Moscow.

He said he spoke with Mayor Yury Luzhkov during the cultural center's opening about "the leading trends in history, about the need to return geopolitical ideas" -- echoing earlier remarks in which he railed against imperialism and told Russians they should revere and revive the ideas of Vladimir Lenin.

"We should remember ... Lenin and come back to his ideas, especially when it comes to anti-imperialism," he said.

He said the cultural center's opening was part of Venezuela's efforts to fight U.S. cultural domination throughout the world. U.S. popular culture, he said, is centered on "the American way of life, Superman, Batman and Robin."