Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) with President George W. Bush
Robert Ver Bruggen, an apprentice editor for The National Interest, argues that the newly elected Democratic-led Congress is likely to take an even harsher view of Russia than the previous Congress. Mr. Ver Bruggen's piece focuses on soon-to-be House International Relations Committee Chairman Tom Lantos relationship with former Russian media oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky.
As the ranking minority member of the House International Relations Committee, Lantos has frequently teamed with Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to pass legislation and resolutions on issues ranging from combating human trafficking to stopping genocide in Sudan and granting asylum to North Korean refugees. These bills have been supported by a broad coalition of human rights groups ranging from socially liberal activists to conservative evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews. Congressman Lantos has also been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin's seizure of YUKOS and jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
On Monday, during an interview for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) accused the Kremlin of instituting a "state run, Mussolini-style of government". Senator McCain mentioned Vladimir Gusinsky by name as one of the backers of independent media who had been silenced in Russia. As of today, McCain is widely viewed in Washington D.C. as one of the leading contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008.
In Moscow, RIA Novosti quotes Russian analysts declaring that the change in partisan control over Congress does not matter very much, and that U.S.-Russia relations have been rapidly deteriorating since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Moscow Times also sees the prospect of Congress approving Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) anytime soon as bleak.