Anti-Putin sentiment called strong in US ruling group

There is considerable anti-Putin sentiment in the United States, Professor Steven Cohen, of New York University, told a mostly student audience in a lecture Thursday at Moscow's State University for Trade and Economics, a Rosbalt correspondent reported. Cohen, a widely known political scientist and writer and Russia specialist, said the anti-Putin sentiment is 'supported by an elite, not the country as a whole.' If George Bush loses the presidency, however, the trend could become stronger, Cohen warned.

"The American elite does not believe Russia has a useful past and that its role, therefore, is to do what Washington says." The White House wants Russia to help "when needed" and "not to interfere, when that is not wanted." Said Cohen: "Of course, for a country like Russia with a centuries-old culture, that is out of the question. The American leadership's view is dangerous and foolish."

In his comments about Russia's presidential election and the convincing victory of the incumbent president, Cohen spoke of television's crucial role in assuring Putin's victory. 'The elections demonstrated that the government can control the nation,' he said. 'In America, as in Russia, 80% of the populace gets its information from television news programs. Of course, there is a free press, but if the Kremlin controls television, its victory is assured.'

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