If Bush has a reason to celebrate Sarkozy's election, the same cannot be said about Putin though not necessary about Russians anxious to hold on to some hard gained freedoms. They were not helped by the Chirac, Schroeder, Putin triumvirate.
Luckily that triumvirate is gone. First, Putin lost Schroeder and, now, Chirac. Sarkozy, like Merkel, prefer the US as he made clear only yesterday. Chirac must be turning in his new apartment:
In an interview ahead of the May 6 runoff, Sarkozy said,"If you asked me which of the [two] countries France will have closer relations with - the United States or Russia, known to us for its Chechen war -'the U.S.' would be my answer."
Speaking to Europe 1 radio, he said that if elected France's next president, he would raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin, as"Russian democracy has progress to make."
Last week I met a group of Russian investigative journalists visiting newsrooms in the US. They minced no words. Their freedom of press is severely curtailed not only by Putin but by regional Putin representatives actively protecting corrupt officials from media exposure. A French president not"too sophisticated" to care about the faltering Russian democracy is priceless.