Hay festival: Kasparov attacks Brown for ignoring Russian democracy’s plight
Judith Soal
Sunday June 1, 2008

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov launched a fierce attack on Gordon Brown and other western leaders for ignoring the excesses of the Russian regime and failing to support the pro-democracy movement over disputed elections in his country.

In a strongly worded speech at the Hay festival last night, Kasparov accused the western media of being “more worried about corruption in the Eurovision song contest than in the Russian elections” and said Vladimir Putin, recently appointed prime minister after eight years as president, wanted to “rule like Stalin and live like Roman Abramovich”.

He also condemned the presence of Andrei Lugovoi, who is wanted in Britain on suspicion of murdering Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, in the VIP box at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium for the Champion’s League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in May.

Kasparov, a leader of the opposition coalition The Other Russia, was barred from standing in parliamentary elections in December and arrested after trying to lead a pro-democracy march. He described his country as a “low profile police state” with rampant corruption and few civil liberties.

“Putin has learnt that if he takes small steps the west say little and do nothing,” he said. “The images of Putin being greeted like a friend by world leaders are used in the country to undermine the opposition.”

He said the election of Dmitry Medvedev as president had been “not free, not fair, not an election but rather a direct appointment by Putin of his chosen successor.

“Amnesty International has recorded countless frauds in the elections but Putin does not care. He sees no reaction from the west.”

The British prime minister wrote to Medvedev after his election, congratulating him on his success and expressing his hope that relations between the two countries would strengthen.

Kasparov accused western leaders of double standards for expressing concern about democracy in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, while giving Russia a “free pass”.

Source: guardian.co.uk

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