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    FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE CONSIDERS PRESIDENT PUTIN A PRAGMATIC LEADER

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    RIGA, January 28, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Anatoly Baranovsky) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is a very pragmatic leader of a country that is going through hard times, Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in her interview with the Russian Telegraph newspaper published in Riga.

    Madeleine Albright's two-day routine visit to Latvia ended on Wednesday morning.

    According to Albright, Vladimir Putin has done a lot of good. In particular, the Russian President is resolutely carrying out the necessary economic reforms, especially, in the tax sphere, she said.

    However, Madeleine Albright expressed traditional concern over the alleged violation of democratic freedoms in Russia.

    Albright hopes for the improvement of Latvian-Russian relations after Latvia's accession to NATO. After that, NATO and Russia will have many issues to discuss, she noted.

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