Thursday, May 04, 2006
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent -- Thursday, May 4
VILNIUS, Lithuania - Vice President , left, in remarks that caused a stir in neighboring Russia, accused President Thursday of restricting the rights of citizens and said that "no legitimate interest is served" by turning energy resources into implements of blackmail.
Cheney is seen as Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, to his left, looks on, prior to Cheney's speech during the Vilnius Conference 2006 in Vilnius, Lithuania Thursday. Cheney accused Russia on Thursday of restricting the rights of its citizens. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
"In Russia today, opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade," Cheney told a conference of Eastern European leaders whose countries once lived under Soviet oppression, and now in Russia's shadow.
Cheney's speech blended praise for the progress Eastern European countries have made toward democracy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, with an exhortation to continue on the same path.
"The democratic unity of Europe ensures the peace of Europe," he said.
He said Russia has a choice to make when it comes to reform, and said that in many areas, "from religion and the news media to advocacy groups and political parties, the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of the people."
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