Putin warns ‘colonialist’ critics to lay off Russia at G-8 meeting


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Posted to the web on: 13 July 2006
Putin warns 'colonialist' critics to lay off Russia at G-8 meeting

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin accused 
foreigners who criticise his democracy record of 
echoing colonialist rhetoric and singled out US 
Vice-President Dick Cheney for personal attack.

His comments in French and US television 
interviews yesterday appeared to be a warning to 
western powers not to lecture Russia at this 
weekend's meeting of leaders from the Group of 
Eight (G-8) industrialised states in St 

Russian opposition groups have urged western 
leaders to condemn Putin's record at the G-8 

Cheney has been an outspoken critic of Putin. He 
said in May that Russia was backsliding on 
democracy and using its vast energy resources to 
blackmail neighbours.

Putin told US channel NBC he would not allow the 
issue to be used to interfere in Russia's 
internal affairs and called Cheney's criticism "a 
failed hunting shot". Cheney accidentally wounded 
a friend during a quail hunt in February.

Putin, who will host US President George Bush and 
the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Canada, 
Japan and Italy, together with the heads of five 
leading developing states - including President 
Thabo Mbeki - said Russia was ready to listen to 
"well-intentioned" criticism. He said, however, 
it would "object to using all possible levers, 
including the idea that our society needs 
democratisation, for interfering in our internal 

On France's LCI television, he accused critics of 
employing a "colonialist" tone and said different 
countries had different standards that had to be 
respected: "If you look at newspapers of 100 
years ago, you see how, at the time, colonialist 
states justified their policies in Africa or in 

"They talked of their civilising role, of the 
white man's mission. If you change the word 
'civilising' to 'democratisation', you find the 
same logic Š in the press of today.

"There are differences between countries and it 
could be very dangerous to ignore these," he said.

Western leaders are expected to raise concerns at 
the summit about Russian moves that are seen as 
anti-democratic, including a new law placing 
restrictions on nongovernmental organisations, 
tightening state control of news media and making 
the upper chamber of parliament an appointed body 
instead of an elected one.

Russia, in setting the agenda for the G-8 summit, 
has made energy security one of the top issues.

However, Russia this year unsettled Europe when a 
dispute with Ukraine over natural gas prices 
resulted in a temporary reduction of Russian 
natural gas deliveries to Europe. Most of 
Russia's Europe-bound gas transits Ukraine.

Despite his sharp comments on Cheney's statement, 
Putin said Russia was not being obstinate to 
criticism. "I am glad that we have critics. It 
would be worse if there were one voice, as it was 
in the time of the Soviet Union at meetings of 
the Communist Party.

"If we hear both critical and positive 
observations, it means that we have the 
possibility of better orienting ourselves toward 
what we'redoing," he said. Reuters, Sapa-AP

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