As he tries to build a legacy of promoting democracy around the globe, Bush has run headlong into Fortress Russia. Increasingly, he's fending off the kind of Russian accusations that once dominated the Soviet era of geopolitics: of covert action on Russia's borders, competing spheres of influence and zero-sum games. Bush wants to visit Latvia and Georgia to show the world what young democracies look like. Instead the Russians see his tour as yet more American interference in their backyard. Putin refuses to move his troops out of Georgia and opposes Bush's support for a new democratic government in repressive Belarus. The Russian president also is flexing his muscle in the Middle East, confirming last week that he would sell antiaircraft missiles to Syria. "We didn't appreciate that," Bush explained to reporters at his Thursday-night White House press conference, "but we made ourselves clear."
Inside the Bush administration, though, democracy is just one item on the agenda with Moscow. U.S. officials tell NEWSWEEK that pushing democracy onto Putin is a lower priority than winning his help to halt the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. They are taking a relaxed approach to Russian troops in Georgia, and suggest that Putin's backsliding on democracy is less dramatic than it seems. Overall, Bush's strategy is to keep open his channel of communication with Putin, which means stopping short of a confrontation.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.