RusData Dialine - Russian Press Digest
February 3, 2005 Thursday

"All the power is concentrated in the Kremlin"

by Andrey Terekhov

SOURCE: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, No 20, p.1

Condoleezza Rice will soon meet with Sergey Lavrov

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov will soon hold his first talks with the newly appointed U.S.
secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. The meeting will take place in
Ankara, Turkey, which Ms. Rice will visit in the course of her first
international tour in the new post.

Russia's and America's top diplomats are to prepare the meeting of
Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush, due to take place on February 24
in the capital of Slovakia Bratislava. Washington has already said it
will put on the talks' agenda certain issues that are likely to make
Moscow feel uncomfortable, like the excessive centralization of
power, democratic reforms in Russia, situation in South Ossetia and
Abkhazia, Transdniestria and Nagorny Karabakh.

On the eve of the meeting with Lavrov Ms. Rice, whom analysts thought
will assume a tougher stance in relations with Moscow, refrained from
making any harsh statements on the situation in Russia. In a recent
interview with Reuters she said the Washington's policy towards
Russia won't be revised. "Russia's movement towards democracy has
been uneven, but the United States understand that today's Russia is
not USSR and there won't be a return to the Soviet past," the State
Secretary said. "Our aim is to deepen relations with Russia. However,
Russia should understand that this is possible only in the presence
of common values." In her opinion, bilateral relations will improve
only in case Russia becomes a more democratic country. Rice believes
the key problem is that currently all the power in this country is
concentrated in the Kremlin. Still, she stressed that her words
should be regarded as just a recommendation.

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, such cautious tone indicates that
the U.S. doesn't intend to spoil relations with Russia right now,
aiming to secure its support in realizing America's international
plans. This mainly relates to fighting international terrorism and
nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.