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Mikhail Margelov (file photo) (RFE/RL) March 1, 2007 -- Russia's Foreign Ministry today rejected U.S. criticism that it is backsliding on democracy.


Spokesman Andrei Krivtsov said the criticism by Michael McConnell, the new U.S. director of national intelligence, reflects "outdated, obsolete ideas."


Krivtsov said McConnell had spent too much time as a Sovietologist and his evaluation had "no foundation."


The Russian Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, has also dismissed the U.S. accusations.


"Let's not forget that if we compare the Russian and U.S. military budgets, the difference between them is not even in tens but in hundreds of times,” said Mikhail Margelov, the head of the council’s Foreign Affairs Committee. “So, in my opinion, to say that Russia could present a threat to the United States is not serious."


(AFP)

Russia's Democratic Development

Demonstrators speak with local politicians in Butovo about the destruction of a local forest in July 2006 (RFE/RL)

IS RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY MANAGING? Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Western powers seek to pressure Russia under the pretext of concern over its democratic development. He has said Russia is ready to listen to "well-intentioned criticism," but will not allow anyone to interfere in its internal affairs. The Kremlin has been criticized for stifling political oppostion, increasing central control over the media, and cracking down on the work on nongovernmental organizations.


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