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Rice Fears Kremlin Holds Too Much Power

The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin has too much central power and is compromising Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

According to an AP report on CNN.com, Rice told reporters after a meeting with human rights activists, "I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," referring to the Russian Parliament. Rice also encouraged activists to build institutions of democracy to help combat arbitrary state power.

BBC News reports that some may see Rice's comments as thinly veiled criticism of Putin and the Kremlin, which makes the report seem editorialized. The report also said that Putin has centralized power and has a tight control of television, which is the most used source of information in Russia. Putin denies those accusations and cites the many non-state publications in Russia. Putin will be stepping down as president after his second term ends in March, but hinted he might try to become the next prime minister and return as president in 2012, as the constitution allows.