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Rice Says Kremlin Power, Russia Media 'Very Worrying'

19 April 2005 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today on the way to Moscow that she considers counterdemocratic developments in Russia "very worrying."

Rice has arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit. She is scheduled to meet, among others, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

In her airplane on the way to Moscow, Rice told reporters she was concerned over the lack of independent news media in Russia and the centralization of state power.

Rice also said it "would not be a positive development" if Putin changes the constitution to be able to run for a third successive term.

An unidentified U.S. official said that a bomb threat today at the Moscow hotel where Rice was to stay forced her motorcade to divert. She was taken instead to the U.S. ambassador's residence.

One purpose of the Rice visit is to prepare for a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush next month. Bush will attend the 60th anniversary of the Soviet army's World War II victory on 9 May.


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