The Blog

Irking the Kremlin

9:28 AM, Jul 18, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Evidently, the one person at the G-8 summit who has irked the Kremlin the most isn't even an elected official. From the Telegraph:

Cherie Blair goaded the Kremlin yesterday when she volunteered legal assistance to Russian campaigners seeking to challenge a law that imposes strict controls on activists.

The Prime Minister's wife was hailed as a heroine by Russia's browbeaten human rights community when she slipped away from the G8 summit in St Petersburg to meet some of the Kremlin's fiercest critics.

She was the only leader's spouse to break away from the official summit, leaving her colleagues as they toured a handicraft exhibition….

Mrs Blair's offer of legal assistance from Matrix, the legal chambers where she works, will irritate the Russian president further. Despite the likely problems, Mrs Blair pressed ahead with the visit organised by Human Rights Watch and Citizen's Watch, a St Petersburg group.

Most of the meeting was conducted in secret but the offer of help came when discussions turned to the non-governmental organisation (NGO) law.

Critics say it gives officials the power to close groups critical of the government and imposes such draconian bureaucracy on operations that their ability to function is seriously hampered….