Geopolitics Is on Putin's Mind at G-8 Summit
Say what you want about his authoritarian leanings, you have to respect Russian President Vladimir Putin's political and public—diplomacy skills. He is using flattery and espousal of certain fashionable causes with little impact on his nation to build capital among the world's publicity—seeking advocacy groups as cover for his own backsliding on other issues of greater political import.
Case in point: last week's "Civil G8 2006 Forum for Nongovernmental Organizations," which brought together some 700 representatives of nongovernmental organizations in Moscow as a precursor to this weekend's St. Petersburg G—8 summit. Admitted to the G—8 in 1997, Russia is serving as president of the informal body —— and host of the annual summit —— for the first time.
President Putin used the Civil G8 Forum to:
— more or less quiet the groups that created a ruckus outside last year's G—8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland;
— rehabilitate his image as a democratic statesman;
— indulge in some one—upsmanship vis—