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Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to heed objective criticism concerning the country’s policy
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to heed objective criticism concerning the country’s policy, however he believes that “permanent captious criticism” of democracy and freedom of mass media in the country as a campaign and “instrument of interference in the domestic and foreign policy of Russia with the aim of influencing it.” In an interview to the CTV television channel of Canada on the eve of the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg the Russian head of state admitted that “Russia is in the transitional state both of its economy and political system.” According to him, “From tsarism we plunged into communism at one stroke and only in the early 1990s a decisive step was taken towards the development of democratic institutions. We did it independently, not under any kind of pressure, and for ourselves, because the democratic organization of the society and practice of the past decades in the world has shown that there is no other way of thinking,” Putin said. “It is the necessary condition for efficient development. And if we want to be an efficient country then we should adhere to these rules. So we shall do this in the future as well,” the Russian leader pointed out. “When we hear criticism from interested partners from the partners that really want Russia to strengthen and become more powerful, efficient, then… we react to this frankly indeed,” the Russian president said. Putin drew attention to the fact that processes underway in Russia at present “differ little from the processes taking place in other countries.” He cited as an example the procedure of elections of the heads of regions. “Many other countries that are considered to be democratic simply have no such procedure at all. They are just appointed. In several European countries and in such biggest democracy as India, for example, they are simply appointed by the government,” Putin said. The president did not agree with the statement that his policy course is not criticized inside the country, including on three major television channels. “If you look more attentively and analyze the developments in mass media, then you see that there is constant incessant criticism not only of me, but also of other politicians or top officials,” Putin said. The Russian head of state does not think that criticism is always objective. “But we put up with this phenomenon and consider it normal,” he pointed out. Putin explained why, to his mind, the West is incessantly voicing criticism against Russia. “In the early 1990s there was disintegration of the Soviet Union. A very difficult situation formed in the economic sphere. The social system broke up completely. The country was actually balancing on the verge of preserving its statehood. It was a very large country, difficult to manage, experiencing crisis after crisis, and it was very easy to manipulate it and easy to influence its domestic and foreign policy. And now suddenly in a mere five-six year period the situation has cardinally changed, however some of our partners have maintained the desire to control and command the situation inside Russia, Russia’s foreign policy. So they started a hasty search for these levers of influence and strings of impact,” said the president. “However little has left today from the possibilities to exert influence on Russia,” Putin is certain. “Therefore, in my view, the permanent negative criticism concerning the democracy problems, freedom of mass media issues and so on are used as an instrument of interference in the Russian domestic and foreign policy in order to influence it,” the president said. In the opinion of the Russian leader, this kind of criticism “is an attempt to solve problems of today by means of old methods.” “This is based on the old philosophy of the Cold War times, philosophy of foreign policy towards Russia if not as an enemy then competitor,” he added. The Russian head of state urged “certain partners” to conduct “a thorough analysis of the processes underway at present in the world and see not just the four-year prospect ahead of the new presidential election, but “look 15-20 years forward.” “They would have a different attitude towards Russia. And then we would not be witnesses to the campaign, this is a campaign indeed, that we are observing,” Putin said. In his view, “only those people who are themselves irreproachable in the sphere of human rights observance” can criticize Russia for encroachment on the freedom of the press. The Russian leader said this kind of criticism is coming mainly from the United States. Putin admitted that “he has little information” on the alternative summit “Another Russia” underway in Moscow. “But I’ve heard that our certain political opponents inside the country want to use it as a pretext for promoting their views inside the country on the situation inside the country, on our foreign policy,” he noted. “It is being done, certainly, in the run-up to the elections to the State Duma in late 2007. And if officials of other countries support these undertakings then it means they are just trying to somewhat influence the domestic political balance of forces in Russia. So what then? It is their right. May god speed you,” concluded the president.
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