Foreign minister expresses unease over direction of Russia


Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed concern over recent developments in Russia, including what he called a tightening of conditions and the restraint of expression by civic groups. Taking part in a meeting of diplomats at Prague’s Černín Palace on Tuesday, the foreign minister suggested in some ways it was as if the country was heading back to the time of the Tsars. At the same time, the foreign minister stressed that Prague had an eminent interest in strong ties with Moscow; he called Russia a key power and partner.

The foreign minister on Tuesday also reflected on the recent sentencing of members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot to two years in prison. Mr Schwarzenberg has consistently supported the trio and on Tuesday he compared their performance in Moscow, which landed them jail time, to social happenings in Europe 40 years ago that led to greater emancipation.