Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied that he was backing Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as his preferred candidate in January`s presidential elections, according to Reuters.

Tymoshenko has worked closely with Putin on defusing a gas pricing dispute between the countries in recent months, prompting analysts to suggest that she is the Russian leadership`s preferred candidate in the January poll.

Putin said he was cooperating with Tymoshenko as prime minister but he was not supporting her in elections.