[JURIST] New US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice [official website], currently on an eight-day get-acquainted junket through Europe and the Middle East, said Saturday in Turkey that Russia needed to improve its track record on democracy. She told reporters:
It is important that Russia make clear to the world that it is intent on strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the role of the independent judiciary, permitting a free and independent press to flourish... These are all the basics of democracy.Administration officials have recently criticized Russian president Vladimir Putin for centralizing power and taking aggressive and arbitrary legal action against perceived opponents, most notably former Yukos Oil CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky [trial defense website]. AP has more.