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  Wednesday, June 19, 2019
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President Bush expressed concern on Thursday night about Russia's commitment to democracy
President Bush expressed concern on Thursday night about Russia's commitment to democracy in a sometimes tense and awkward encounter with President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Putin, at times visibly uncomfortable, refused to yield, reports the New York Times. "Democracies have certain things in common - a rule of law and protection of minorities and a free press and a viable political opposition," Mr. Bush said after a private meeting that lasted more than an hour, chiding Mr. Putin gently though more directly than ever before. "I was able to share my concerns about Russia's commitment in fulfilling these universal principles." Mr. Putin tartly responded that he would listen to some of Mr. Bush's ideas but not comment on others and said that debating "whether we have more or less democracy is not the right thing to do." Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed criticism that he has retreated on democratic reforms Thursday during a spirited news conference with President Bush, who also was forced to defend his commitment to democracy at home. The unusual public discussion was prompted by Bush's warning this week that Putin should halt anti-democratic initiatives that include curbs on the news media and moves to control local governments. Putin, who developed a warm relationship with Bush a few years ago, bristled at the recent scolding from Washington. He said that democracy in Russia is tailored to his country's history and traditions. The Russian leader denied that he had restrained the country's news media, noting that his government's actions were being examined precisely because they have been aired in the media. Putin added that he hoped the dispute over his governing did not overshadow what he called more important issues for agreement. The two countries announced collaborative efforts to reduce the availability of shoulder-mounted missiles and protect nuclear material that could be used in weapons, tells the Houston Chronicle
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