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Russia Rejects US Criticism of Its Democracy Record

Russia has criticized a recent White House report that calls for greater democratic reforms in Russia's neighbors.

In a statement Monday, Russia's foreign ministry said the report showed that U.S. officials are seeking an active democracy-building role in the region.

It warned that, in its words, "artificial" and "forceful" attempts at planting democracy in other countries may not be successful. It added that no one has a monopoly on interpreting the basis of democracy.

The statement follows the release last week of President Bush's new national security strategy, which criticized Russia for falling off the path to democracy.

Referring to Russia, it said recent trends "regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions." Mr. Bush said future relations will depend on Russia's domestic and foreign policies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP..