- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Russia rips McCain

Russian Ambassador Yuri V. Ushakov charged Sen. John McCain with spreading “lies and hatred” against his government after the Arizona Republican denounced Moscow for the arrest of a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. McCain’s speech in the Senate on Tuesday was “an outrageous and direct encroachment on the present and future of the Russian-U.S. strategic partnership,” Mr. Ushakov said.

The ambassador made no attempt to couch his remarks in diplomatic language and released his statement late Tuesday without checking first with his government. The Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday supported Mr. Ushakov with its own criticism of Mr. McCain, a Russian Embassy spokesman said.

In his statement, Mr. Ushakov called Mr. McCain’s remarks “a blatant example of the Cold War sentiments still nurtured by some members of the U.S. political establishment.”

“It is hard to recall the last time we heard anything similar to the charge of lies and hatred set off by Senator McCain. His voice is the voice of the past era that people are already starting to forget,” he added.

Mr. McCain, in his Senate speech, warned of a threat to Russian democracy by the Oct. 25 arrest of billionaire businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who funded opposition political parties. Mr. Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man, was taken into custody after masked security agents stormed his private plane during a stop in Siberia. He has been charged with tax evasion, fraud, forgery and embezzlement.

Mr. McCain said a “creeping coup against the forces of democracy and market capitalism in Russia is threatening the foundation of the U.S.-Russian relationship and raising the specter of a new era of cold peace between Washington and Moscow.”

He accused Mr. Putin of acting like his “Soviet and czarist predecessors.”

“The dramatic deterioration of democracy in Russia calls into question the fundamental premises of our Russia policy since 1991,” Mr. McCain said.

“American leaders must adapt U.S. policy to the realities of a Russian government that may be trending toward neo-imperialism abroad and authoritarian control at home. It is time to face the unpleasant facts about Russia.”

Trade normalized

The ambassador from the former Yugoslavia was elated when the United States this week lifted trade barriers imposed when dictator Slobodan Milosevic unleased war and genocide in the Balkans in the 1990s.

“I am pleased by the decision of the U.S. government,” said Ambassador Ivan Vujacic of Serbia and Montenegro after the Bush administration normalized trade relations with his country on Monday.

He said the decision “marks a new beginning in our trade cooperation and will give a boost to our economy.”

Under normalized trade relations, Serbia and Montenegro will enjoy the same low tariffs that the United States applies to most of its trading partners.

“Normalization of trade relations was one of our top priorities since the toppling of Milosevic,” the ambassador said.

The former dictator is now on trial for war crimes.

Hungary opens files

Hungarian Cultural Minister Istvan Hiller yesterday signed an agreement with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to open government files that deal with the murders of more than 550,000 Jews during World War II.

“The document opens up the possibility for museum experts to research the different Hungarian state archives in order to fully explore the tragic events of the Holocaust in Hungary,” the Hungarian Embassy said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.


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