A Russian political commentator with close links to the Kremlin assailed the European constitution as a plan for a bureaucratic super-state, saying Thursday that its rejection by French and Dutch voters boded well for both Europeans and Russia.
Gleb Pavlovsky, political commentator and consultant, said the European constitution would have suppressed national sovereignty and put the European Union on a dangerous path leading to new conflicts.
He said that its rejection will help temper ambitions of the EU bureaucracy and improve relations between Russia and Europe.
"There was a split between the elites' game of a unified Europe as a superpower playing geopolitics, and the Europeans' desire to live in a normal, sovereign environment," Pavlovsky said.
Valery Fadeyev, the editor of Expert, a leading business affairs magazine, also criticized the European constitution as a bureaucratic product infringing on sovereignty.
"The unification is dangerous, because it binds people and limits their freedom," he said. "It obliges nations to live according to bureaucrats' whim."
Russia has been wary about the eastward expansion of the EU, which took in the former Soviet Baltic republics last year. The possibility that other ex-Soviet nations such as Ukraine will eventually join has fueled its concerns.
Pavlovsky, who was involved in Ukraine's presidential election last fall in which pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko defeated a Kremlin-backed opponent, bristled at what he described as the EU's ill-considered interference in ex-Soviet spaces.
"Europe's intention to unfreeze conflicts in the Black Sea basin, solve problems of the Trans-Dniester, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia ... has led to confusion and new difficulties," Pavlovsky said.
Russia has played mediator in the post-Soviet conflicts, deploying peacekeepers to Georgia's breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to Moldova's separatist Trans-Dniester region. The Kremlin views the EU's increasing interest in these regions as an encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence.
Russia will benefit from the constitutional crisis because it would slow down the EU's expansion drive and make its foreign policy more rational, Pavlovsky said.
"The discussion in Europe about perspectives of the EU's development is good for Russia," he said. "Russia can't remain indifferent to the dogma of a unified Europe, because it's dangerous. The victory of that ideology would lead to potential conflicts."
VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer