Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, made the remarks during a panel discussion at the Voice of America today hosted by VOA's Russian Service. Panelist Nikolai Zlobin, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Defense Information, criticized the Russian government for censoring the media and of Putin's announced changes. "Something is wrong," he said, "when a U.S. Congressman knows more about what happened there than an ordinary Russian."
Another panelist, David Satter, a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, said Putin's reforms were not a result of Beslan, but were a "directed effort to expand the power of an already top-heavy presidential administration." According to Satter, "The measures that were announced by Putin and were described as anti-terrorist measures were in fact planned long before Beslan."
Nikolas Gvosdev, Senior Fellow at The Nixon Center, cautioned that Putin's proposal to take control over the appointment of regional leaders would lead to future problems because Russia "does not have effective political parties that act as transmission belts for the rising generation." According to Gvosdev, "The problem with having the presidential administration vet every key leadership found in Russia is it's very easy to tell the leader what he wants to hear . . . it eliminates an important check and balance against corruption."
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