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Russia could face difficulties joining WTO following a Democratic Party victory in Tuesday's congressional election
Russia could face difficulties joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) following a Democratic Party victory in Tuesday's congressional election, which gave it a majority in the House of Representatives, a senior Russian parliamentarian said Wednesday. Results for Senate races have yet to be finalized. The U.S. has still not signed a protocol on Russia's accession to the WTO, with one of the obstacles remaining in the form of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which is still in force for Russia but was under debate during the term of the Republican-majority Congress. Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian State Duma's International Affairs Committee, said that since Democrats have traditionally given priority to the issues of democracy and human rights protection, the U.S. may now focus on these issues first of all and "probably to the detriment of our [Russian-U.S.] bilateral relations." The Jackson-Vanik Amendment links U.S. trade benefits, known as Normal Trade Relations (NTR), to the emigration and human rights policies of Communist or formerly Communist countries. Russia has long complained that the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which restricts trade with the former Soviet Union, remains in force for Russia despite having been lifted for many of its former Soviet allies. Kosachev also said the Democratic victory was a major blow to the Republican president's authority, and added that it was a 'vote of no confidence' in the Bush administration. He said that the "U.S. president lost the election due to a series of foreign policy failures," as Republicans have not fulfilled many of the promises they made in previous elections, such as solving the problems of weapons of mass destruction proliferation and winning the fight against international terrorism.
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