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Friday, May 05, 2006

Cheney is Right on Target with Comments on Russia

Vice-president Dick Cheney has it exactly right. Russia needs to decide whose side it's on: the side of freedom and democracy, or the side of oppression and tyranny.

In remarks made to a group of Eastern European leaders, Cheney said: Russia today, opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade. In many areas of civil society – from religion and the news media to advocacy groups and political parties – the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of the people.
That Russia is once again restricting the rights of its people should not come as a surprise to anyone, not with a former KGB officer as its President.

It's also troubling that Russia seems to have become friendly with China. Last summer Russia and China conducted joint naval exercises. Today, Russia and China are together threatening to block possible U.N. sanctions against Iran. To have the world's most dangerous formerly communist country seemingly allying itself with the world's most dangerous currently communist country is - well - dangerous.

This is not to say that Russia cannot still become truly part of the free world, a point Cheney also made:

America and all of Europe…want to see Russia in the category of healthy, vibrant democracies...Russia has a choice to make...None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy.
The United States and other democratic powers around the world must continue to encourage Russia to make the right choice. Cheney stated that this would be addressed at the G8 summit, which will be held in July in St.Petersburg, Russia.

We will make the case, clearly and confidently, that Russia has nothing to fear and everything to gain from having strong, stable democracies on its borders and that by aligning with the west, Russia joins us all on a course to prosperity and greatness.
There is still a tremendous amount of work to do in bringing Russia into the family of free nations. It's work that must be done with both optimism and caution. We need to be optimistic that a stable and free democracy can be established in Russia, yet we cannot let our guard down. It's way to soon to fully trust the Russian government.


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