Cheney: Russia's Putin restricting civil rights

Russia under President Vladimir Putin has recently "unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of the people," US Vice President Cheney told a conference of Eastern European leaders Thursday, cautioning that similar actions could begin affecting relations with other countries. "No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation," Cheney said. "And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements." Russia rattled nerves across Europe last winter when the state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom announced it was cutting off supplies of natural gas to Ukraine. An agreement eventually ended the impasse, but it raised questions of Russia's dependability as a supplier of energy.