7 December 2004 -- Russia welcomed today the inauguration of Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's first democratically chosen president.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called Karzai's election an important step forward in the process of Afghanistan becoming a united, independent, and democratic country.
The ministry said Moscow is confident in the wide popular support Karzai enjoys, his authority, and his influence in the region.
The statement contrasted with remarks made by President Vladimir Putin during a visit to India earlier this month where he stated that Russia is aware of what he called "the difficult circumstances under which the election was held" and realizes that it could not balance the interests of all political forces.
Get RFE/RL news, analysis, and background on the Afghan elections at "Afghanistan Votes 2004-05."