Western media, many Russia scholars, politicians who are not in power, and much of the public see President Vladimir Putin moving Russia further away from democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as they are understood in the West. The critics may disagree about whether today’s Russia can be described as a "managed democracy," an "authoritarian state," or a "new totalitarian state." But they all agree that the political system President Putin has designed and erected during the past few years no longer has much in common with western democracy. This paper looks at E.U.–Russia relations from a European and not a Russian perspective. Its main focus is to look at the question of how the issue of "common values" has figured in this relationship, especially when compared with the importance of other major issues.

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About the Author

Rolf Schuette was a visiting scholar in the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace during the autumn of 2004. He is a career diplomat in the German Foreign Service and has served at embassies in Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Rome, and at the United Nations. Until July 2004, he was the head of the Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova division in the Foreign Office in Berlin.