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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

Putin: Soviet break-up 'disaster'

From The Daily Telegraph:

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has described the break-up of the Soviet Union as the "greatest geopolitical disaster of the last century".

In a nod to Russians' lingering nostalgia for Communist times, Mr Putin, a former KGB spy, used his state of the nation address to deplore the disintegration of old ideals and the hardships of the new capitalist era.

The end of the Soviet system was "a real drama" which stranded millions of Russians beyond the borders of the Russian Federation, he said. Mr Putin has previously lamented the loss of the USSR as a "tragedy". But, mindful of international criticism of the country's growing authoritarianism, he emphasised Russia's commitment to democracy.

"Democratic values are no less important for modern Russia than the striving toward economic success and social wellbeing," he told hundreds of senior state functionaries gathered in the Kremlin for the televised speech, which he described as a blueprint for the next decade.

He also stressed that Russia "will decide for itself the pace, terms and conditions of moving towards democracy", an apparent reference to recent upheavals in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, believed by some Russians to have been inspired by the West.

Russia was moving to define and cement in law which areas of the economy were strategically vital for its future, Mr Putin said.

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