Republicans Attack Russian Policy
By BARRY SCHWEID
WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came under attack Wednesday from House Republicans regarding Russia policy.
The Clinton administration has failed ``to truly stand up to the massive corruption in the Yeltsin government,'' said Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the International Relations Committee.
``Will anybody now call the Putin government to account for the sake of democracy?'' he asked Albright, setting the tone for a two-hour hearing, possibly Albright's last as Secretary of State.
The criticisms were wide-ranging.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., accused the administration of secretly supporting the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement in Afghanistan, a charge Albright flatly denied.
Rep. John Cooksey, R-Calif., said the administration had not pressured Russia to close what he called an espionage facility at Lourdes in Cuba.
And Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, said the administration ``has not identified with the problems of the Russian people and more closely identified with the new Russian oligarchy.'' As the economy declines and the health of Russian children grows worse, ``relations with Russia are worse in many different ways than they were a decade ago,'' he said.
Albright countered that ``democracy is hard'' and ``it has been especially difficult in Russia, whose people have no living memory of political and economic freedom to guide them.''
``The Clinton-Gore administration has not seen Russia through rose-colored glasses,'' she said. ``We have been very realistic. And we have dealt with something that has never been dealt with before: how you deal with a former adversary that had an empire and help to manage the devolution of that empire.''
Democrats rallied to Albright's defense, with one suggesting the allegations were politically motivated.
``Some people have a need to make politics out of Russia's problems,'' said Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn., adding that the Clinton administration had made the United States safer with arms control agreements that have reduced Russia's nuclear arsenal.
Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said the administration had pursued ``the only rational way'' of dealing with Russia.
``It is beyond our prerogative and power to determine Russia's future,'' Albright said, telling the Republicans, ``We can work together on a bipartisan basis to explore every avenue for cooperation with Russia'' on arms control and security.
Alluding to the political season, Albright, a longtime Democrat, said that when she became secretary of state in 1997, ``I had my political instincts removed.''
But now, she said, ``maybe I have to see the surgeon again.''
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