Press Conference: Putin’s “Belief in Democracy”

President Bush tonight:

President Putin believes in democracy. I take him at his word.

One week ago: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “criticised the course Russia was taking under President Vladimir Putin, noting a lack of clear alternatives to the current, dominant Kremlin regime. ‘Trends have not been positive on the democratic side,’ Dr Rice told reporters on board her plane to Moscow, where she was due to meet Mr Putin and other top officials. ‘The centralisation of state power in the presidency at the expense of countervailing institutions like the Duma (parliament’s lower house) or an independent judiciary is clearly very worrying. ‘” [4/21/05]