The Bush Clan at the “Oligarchs’ Ball”

Helping Out Old Friends

Vladimir Putin reacted swiftly to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s criticism of Russian democracy following the Russian president’s reelection on March 14.  The exchange indicated increasing tensions in U.S.-Russian relations, tensions that may have as much to do with the Bush clan’s business interests as they do with the geopolitical interests of the two countries.

Following Putin’s reelection (he won over 71 percent of the vote), Powell repeated criticisms of the Russian political system similar to those he made last January following the landslide electoral victory of the Kremlin-backed United Russia party in the December parliamentary elections.  Powell commented that the United States “was concerned about a level of authoritarianism creeping back into [Russian society].”  He told ABC TV that “We don’t hesitate to point out to President Putin that he should use the popularity he has to broaden the political dialogue and not use his popularity to throttle political dialogue and openness in the society.”  Powell followed up with criticism of the lack of media access allowed to Putin’s rivals: “Russians have to understand that to have full democracy of the kind that the international community will recognize, you’ve got to let candidates have all access to the media that the president has.”

Dmitry Kozak, Putin’s...

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