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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

BBC NEWS | Europe | Joint letter attacks Putin reform

BBC NEWS | Europe | Joint letter attacks Putin reform: "Joint letter attacks Putin reform
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and 100 international figures have signed a letter criticising reforms proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Havel's aides say the signatories include former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, US Senator John McCain and philosopher Francis Fukuyama.
The letter has been sent to the heads of all European Union and Nato states.
It raises concerns that the Beslan school tragedy is being used to further undermine democracy in Russia.
The letter expresses solidarity with Russia in the fight against terror and condemns the seizure of the school in southern Russia earlier this month which left more than 330 people dead.
The leaders of the West must recognise that our current strategy towards Russia is failing

But it says the signatories are concerned by Mr Putin's proposed reforms and call for a change of stance towards Moscow by the West.
Mr Putin announced a sweeping overhaul of the way Russia is run, in the wake of the Beslan siege, the bombing of two passenger planes and other recent attacks on civilians.
He said strengthening central government control was a necessary part of the fight against terrorism.
The signatories to the letter say Russian foreign policy under Mr Putin has been marked by a 'threatening attitude' to neighbouring countries and 'the return of the rhetoric of militarism and empire'.
'All too often in the past, the West has remained silent and restrained its criticism in the belief that President Putin's steps in the wrong direction were temporary and the hope that Russia soon would return to a democratic pro-Western path,' they say in the letter.
'The leaders of the"

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