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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Putin rebuffs 'colonialist' West
Russian President Vladimir Putin. File photo
Mr Putin says Russia will listen to "well-intentioned criticism"
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Western critics of Russia's record on democracy of using "colonialist" rhetoric.

In TV interviews, he said it was unacceptable for the West to use the issue to interfere in Russia's affairs.

He singled out US Vice-President Dick Cheney, who earlier this year accused Mr Putin of backsliding on democracy.

Pro-democracy campaigners have been pressuring the West to raise the issue at a G8 summit in Russia this weekend.

'Same logic'

In wide-ranging interviews to French and US TV channels, Mr Putin gave an assessment of Russia's role in the world and its progress in building democracy.

Talking to France's LCI television, which translated his remarks, Mr Putin accused critics in the West of using Russian "colonialist" language towards Russia.

"If you look at newspapers of 100 years ago, you see how, at the time, colonialist states justified their policies in Africa or in Asia. They talked of their civilising role, of the white man's mission," he said.

"If you change the word 'civilising' to 'democratisation', you find the same logic, you can read the same things in the press today."

Mr Putin also said Moscow was ready to listen to "well-intentioned criticism", according to a transcript of his interview with NBC released by the Kremlin.

Pointing to the fact that he was elected directly by the Russian people, he asked how that can be seen as undemocratic.

But he stressed that Russia would "categorically object to using all possible levers, including the idea that our society needs democratisation, for interfering in our internal affairs".

He called Mr Cheney's criticism of Russia's record "a failed hunting shot".

Mr Putin's remark apparently referred to errant shot by Mr Cheney during a hunting trip on a ranch in Texas in February.

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