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Rice On Russia

The United States is concerned about the direction of Russia’s political and economic future. That was part of the message U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed to President Vladimir Putin and other top officials during her visit to Russia.

Secretary Rice said that the United States and Russia are enjoying "very good" cooperation in the war on terrorism. She also said that U.S. friendship with the former Soviet states bordering Russia does not mean that the United States wants to supplant Russia's influence with its neighbors. At the same time, Secretary of State Rice said, there are "worrying" trends.

"Russia has been experiencing a kind of concentration of power in the presidency, in the Kremlin, really at the expense of countervailing institutions like a strong legislature or an independent judiciary or, perhaps most importantly, truly independent media. This means that, whatever the intentions of President Putin are, or those around him, you don't have the ability of those other institutions to provide a check on power."

Secretary of State Rice said she was concerned about rule of law in Russia. In 2004, Russia's Justice Ministry auctioned off Yukos' main production facility after accusing the company of tax evasion, while its former chief executive officer has been jailed on charges of tax evasion and fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced later this month and could receive ten years in prison.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says there is nothing to be gained from isolating "a Russia that is still in transition." "What we need to do," she said, "is to be very clear to the Russians that the deepening of U.S.-Russian relations is in large part dependent on common values and on continued democratic development in Russia."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.