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MOSCOW: Russia's new president, Dmitri Medvedev, less swaggering than his predecessor but as touchy about criticism from abroad, said in an interview that an America in "essentially a depression" was in no position to lecture other countries on how to conduct their affairs.
With soaring oil revenues bolstering the Russian economy and Kremlin confidence, Medvedev brushed aside American criticism of his country's record on democracy and human rights. He also said that a revived Russia had a right to assume a larger role in a world economic system that he suggested should no longer be dominated by the United States.
In the interview, Medvedev was asked about a call by Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to bar Russia from the Group of 8 because of its record on democracy. Medvedev, who easily won Russia's presidential election in March after the Kremlin hobbled the opposition, responded that the question of democracy was irrelevant to the Group of 8 and, besides, the United States had more pressing matters to attend to.