President Vladimir Putin lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney ahead of this weekend’s G-8 summit, calling his recent criticisms of Russia “an unsuccessful hunting shot,” according to a television interview being broadcast Wednesday.
The remark, from an interview with ‘Today’ show anchor Matt Lauer, referred to shotgun blast by Cheney on a hunting trip that accidentally wounded a companion.
Cheney, in a May speech in the ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania, accused Russia of cracking down on religious and political rights and of using its energy reserves as “tools of intimidation or blackmail.”
In response, Putin said, “I think the statements of your vice president of this sort are the same as an unsuccessful hunting shot. It’s pretty much the same.”
Fending off criticism
Putin, seeking to pre-empt rebukes over democracy from fellow members of the Group of Eight, has said the West’s criticism of Russia was a mix of Cold War thinking and neo-colonialism.
In other interviews with French, Canadian and U.S. TV channels — transcripts of which were published on his Web site Wednesday — Putin denied allegations Russia was backtracking on democracy, and said it would develop at its own pace.