March 01, 2005

Off the Record

In a February 5 news conference, after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We have concerns, and we’ve made it clear, about internal developments in Russia... It is important that Russia make clear to the world that it is intent on strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the role of the independent judiciary, permitting a free and independent press to flourish. These are all the basics of democracy.”

A US State Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Rice privately expressed to Lavrov her concern over what Washington views as anti-democratic steps recently taken by the Russian government, such as its moves against oil giant Yukos, a clampdown on electronic media, and the continuing concentration of power in the Kremlin.

– Associated Press and others

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