MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed US criticism of the presidential poll that saw him storm to a second term in a landslide reelection. "This is dictated by the internal political situation" in the United States, Putin told reporters in televised comments from his campaign headquarters near the Kremlin. "No one has a right to think that if they criticize others, they cannot be criticized themselves," he said.
On Sunday, top US officials expressed concern over Russia's election, the third in the post-Soviet era. "We are concerned about the way this election is being held," US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Fox News Sunday program. Powell expressed particular concern about a lack of media access afforded to the five candidates challenging Putin. "Russians have to understand that to have full democracy of the kind the international community will recognize, you've got to let candidates have all access to the media that the president has," Powell said. "I don't see it going back to the days of the Soviet Union. But we are concerned about a level of authoritarianism creeping back in the society," Powell said later on ABC television.
His views were echoed by national security advisor Condoleezza Rice. "We are concerned that the elections have not allowed full debate among the candidates," Rice told NBC television. "We believe that Russia's best interest is in trying to associate itself with western values and with democratic values," she said. Elections 2004