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But Mr. Putin sought to turn the tables on his European guests, pointing at German police have also detained protesters. "Law enforcement authorities in practically all countries make preventative arrests, there are examples in Germany," he said. "Such action isn't always justified." Mr. Putin also assailed the EU for failing to respond to the death of a Russian citizen during riots in Estonia over the removal of a monument to a Soviet soldier from Tallinn, the capital.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters at Volzhsky Utyos, a riverside resort not far from the Volga city of Samara, that democracy and rule of law are "sacred principles for the EU." "We stress the importance of democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of demonstration," he said. "These are values [which] I'm sure, unite, not divide us. It's very important for all European countries, and Russia is a European country ... to ensure the full respect of those principles and values."


by zoe on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 03:38:07 PM EST

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