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Rice Skeptical About Russian Democracy

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said some aspects of democracy in Russia seem to be "going in the wrong direction" (file photo) (epa) 13 February 2006 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed skepticism about the future of democracy in Russia.

Rice, appearing on CBS television's "Face the Nation" on 12 February, said the United States is very concerned, particularly about some of the "elements of democratization that seem to be going in the wrong direction."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been criticized for centralizing political power and rolling back democratic gains.

Rice pointed to severe limits on nongovernmental organizations begun this year and Russia's use of energy as a weapon in a dispute with Ukraine this winter.

She said she thinks the question is open as to where Russia's "future development is going."

But Rice also said that nothing can be gained by isolating Russia from institutions that demand democratic values from its members.

Rice said the United States and Russia cooperate in fighting terrorism, opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other areas.