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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bipartisan U.S. Legislator Group Denounces Russia

Relying on the AP Wire, the Kiev post reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The heads of state and government attending next month's summit of rich industrialized nations in Russia should rebuke their host for actions "inconsistent with G-8 democratic norms," four U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday. They also urged the leaders to consider holding a G-7 meeting outside Russia before or after the summit in St Petersburg July 15-17. The G-8 includes the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan. The lawmakers made their recommendations in a letter to the leaders of the G-7 countries.

The signers were Sen. John McCain, a Republican presidential hopeful in 2008, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, unsuccessful Democratic vice presidential candidate in the 2004 elections, Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee and David Dreier, the powerful Republican chairman of the House Rules Committee.

"President Putin has steered Russia away from democracy and toward authoritarianism," the letter said. "He has increased pressure on opposition political parties and civil society, strengthened state control over control over national broadcast media and pursued politically driven prosecutions of business leaders, academics and others voicing criticism of the government," the letter said.

The members of Congress also pointed out that Russia has take a number of actions to undermine democracy and bolster autocracy abroad, including supporting fraudulent elections in Ukraine and cutting off gas supplies in an effort to pressure the democratically elected government. They said "Russia also continues to support Alexander Lukashenko's dictatorship in Belarus while employing coercive measures, such as trade sanctions and interruptions in energy supplies." The lawmakers said they realized the summit will take place, "however it is important that the G-7 heads of state make clear that Russia's actions are inconsistent with G-8 democratic norms."

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