Russian opposition leader says EU must culturally and intellectually incorporate Russia into Europe

A liberal Russian opposition leader on Wednesday criticized the European Union, saying the bloc had no long-term strategy for building economic and political ties with Russia.

Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the liberal opposition Yabloko party, also said Russia was more than a mere provider of natural resources in Europe's drive to compete with emerging Asian economies and the United States.

"The EU is not prepared" for long-term political and economic relations with Russia, Yavlinsky said after a seminar on democracy in Russia at the European Parliament. "At the moment, there is no strategy. The EU only takes a very short-term approach."

He said the EU must culturally and intellectually incorporate Russia into Europe, not just take it as an economic partner.

The opposition leader also offered some criticism of the Russian government, calling it an authoritarian system with no independent parliament, media or justice.

An influential European Union lawmaker called on EU governments to stop recognizing Russia as a democracy due to what he called lack of political freedom. A.M.

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