U.S. Should Press Russia on Democracy — Rice


Created: 22.05.2006 12:00 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:00 MSK, 5 hours 20 minutes ago

Russia should be pressed on democratic reforms, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview, adding that Moscow should not intimidate its neighbors, the AFP news agency reported.

“We still have a good relationship with Russia. We work together on all kinds of issues,” Rice said. “We’ve come a long, long way from when there was a hammer and sickle above the Kremlin,” Rice said in an interview published Sunday in the newspaper of Boston College, where she was to speak Monday.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said on May 4 in Vilnius that Russia was using energy as a weapon against former republics of the Soviet Union and meddling in their politics. Days later Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the United States as a wolf with a limited point of view.

“These are things we’ve been saying and talking about for some time,” Rice said. “They perhaps got put together in the vice president’s speech, but these have been issues with the Russians and we’ve been vocal about them,” she said.

“There are some protections for individual freedoms, but we have to worry that the kind of institutionalization of democracy that is so important — with a free press, with a judiciary that’s independent, with a legislature that is a real legislature. That is what has not taken place and indeed where there have been some reversals in Russia. And so we have to speak the truth as we know it,” Rice said.

“It’s also important for Russia not to intimidate its neighbors. The small states around Russia that used to be part of the Soviet Union are now independent and they have to be respected as such,” she said.

“Finally, if Russia is to be a reliable energy supplier in the energy markets, which is extremely important these days, Russia has to behave in a way that its customers are to believe that these really will be matters of commerce and not matters of politics. So it was important to speak up on it,” Rice said.

“Yet as the President (George W. Bush) said, nobody’s going to give up on Russia. We know that it’s not the Soviet Union.”