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Russia Envoy Warns ‘Extremely Dangerous’ Ideas Behind US Democracy Summit

The Russian ambassador to the United States slammed US President Joe Biden’s decision to hold a second “Summit for Democracy” this week, rejecting the affair as an attempt by Washington to impose its interests worldwide even as the US faces serious issues of its own at home .

The two-day virtual summit, which is set to begin Wednesday, is the second of its kind following the debut event in December 2021 involving more than 100 leaders. While the Biden administration hailed the gathering as a crucial step toward shoring up relations between nations committed to democratic governance, critics pointed to an uncertain criterion for who received invitations, a lack of substantial agreements reached and the United States’ difficult experience with peaceful transition of power earlier that year.

Among the critics is Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov, who told Newsweek that the first forum “was characterized as the epitome of hypocrisy even by a number of observers in the West.”

“Questions arose not only about the list of invited countries, many of which are considered ‘undemocratic’ here,” Antonov said, “but also, in principle, about the ability and largely the moral right of Washington—dealing with many political and socio -economic controversies at home—to impose its canons and way of life on others.”

The Russian envoy said that Moscow established three flaws in the first summit based on conversations with those who participated.

“It turned out that many of them, firstly, had no idea of ​​what the essence of Washington’s undertaking was,” Antonov said. “Secondly, they were driven the importance of being in a group of ‘leading democracies’ of the world. Thirdly, as some diplomats put it, the path of least resistance was taken.

“Nothing was requested, and the establishment of another forum for discussions on democratic transformations entailed no consequences for their countries.”

Now, he said, “the situation with the second ‘Summit’ is actually the same.”

“Many are wondering: What do they want in Washington from this gathering? What is the added value to the world standards in democracy?” Antonov asked. “How to accommodate national differences in culture, history, religion?

“Finally, some ‘dissidents’ among the participants of the ‘Summit’ even take the liberty to doubt the legitimacy of the general line of imposing American values ​​and standards on the ‘democratic community.'”

Controversy has already begun to surround the new summit. NATO allies such as the heads of Hungary and Turkey were once again spurned, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly still scheduled to speak at the event despite domestic unrest sparked by a proposed law that would give parliament more influence over the judiciary system.

Growing tensions in Israel led the White House National Security Council to issue a statement of concern on Sunday and NSC Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby reaffirmed these worries the following day.

“We remain deeply concerned by recent developments, which further underscored in our view that urgent need for compromise,” Kirby told reporters during a press call Monday.

And while he confirmed that Israel was one of 121 countries invited to the upcoming Summit for Democracy, he said the details of the agenda would be communicated in the following days. And he defended the tenets of the summit at what he saw as a fraught time for democracies around the world.

“I think if you just look at the events of the last year,” Kirby said, “we can see that democracies all around the world, because they’re open societies, because they are based on the consent of the government, because they believe in free expression and the rule of law, they remain vulnerable to attacks by autocratic, authoritarian state actors as well as non-state actors.

“And so, the whole idea of ​​a summit for democracy is to stand up for this very idea of ​​democracy, to acknowledge that maintaining democratic institutions requires a whole heck of a lot of work and effort, honesty, transparency and accountability.”

But Antonov argued that the US flaws ran even deeper than that.

“Doesn’t America have problems with racism, gun violence, corruption and social inequality? Why are approximately 40 million people living below the poverty line in the richest country in the world?” Antonov asked. “Yet, the 50 wealthiest Americans are richer than half the US population.

“There is also a clear problem with the freedom of speech, evidenced eloquently by the ‘cancel culture’ cutting out people from the public sphere for dissenting views. Many admit that the US electoral law also has certain flaws, lacking an institute of direct presidential elections.”

As such, Antonov argued that democracy was being replaced by “democratism,” a system in which “ruling elites enjoy practically unlimited power, democratic norms are just declared and democratic institutions are nothing but window dressing.”

He then cited a survey published by Pew Research Center in October 2021, less than two months before the first Summit for Democracy, finding that some 85 percent of US respondents sought significant political reform in the country. That, he argued, “should hardly be a role model.”

The Russian ambassador to the United States slammed US President Joe Biden’s decision to hold a second “Summit for Democracy” this week, rejecting the affair as an attempt by Washington to impose its interests worldwide even as the US faces serious issues of its own at home .

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