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The deepening mystery surrounding the death of the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko has been widely covered around the world.

According to a report in The Guardian British police officers are to fly to Moscow to interview the three Russian men who met Litvinenko on November 1, the day he fell ill. The trio -- businessmen Andrei Lugovoi, Dmitri Kovtun and Vyacheslav Sokolenko -- have all protested their innocence.

Meanwhile Sunday newspaper the Observer suggested that Mr Litvinenko had plans to blackmail senior Russian figures, using sensitive information obtained from contacts in the FSB, the Russian agency formerly known as the KGB. He is said to have obtained a file which contained damaging allegations relating to the oil company Yukos.

The Daily Telegraph says that Russia's attitude to each new revelation is increasingly a matter of grave concern.

"Moscow is happy to reap the benefits of selling its energy to Western markets, of reaching accords with the European Union, and of being accepted into the World Trade Organization, vetoes from its former satellites permitting. But as soon as it is pointed out that Russia is sliding towards autocracy, that its record of human rights is not up to standard -- in fact, as soon as any substantive criticism is made -- the response is truculence, belligerence and outrage."

The New York Times is worried too. "Under the guise of restoring Russian honor, Mr. Putin's government is quashing the freedoms won by the post-Soviet press, judiciary and legislature. Government critics have been branded "enemies of Russia" on lists that circulate openly in government circles.

"The Kremlin claims to see American wiles behind every real or perceived setback. The West has no choice but to continue dealing with Russia, and with Mr. Putin. But when Kremlin critics are attacked or murdered, the West must demand a full, transparent investigation and punishment for the criminals no matter who they are. It is time to let Mr. Putin know that we are looking hard into his soul, and we don't like what we see."

The Australian says that while the world's foreign policy thinkers are focused on machinations within the Middle East, the world ignores the doings of Russia at its peril.

"With its seat on the U.N. Security Council, Moscow is in a position to thwart Western foreign policy -- something it does routinely. Here it seems uncomfortably close to other strongman-led regimes, having blocked action against Sudan for its genocidal behavior in Darfur or stymying U.S.-led efforts at the U.N. to punish then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Moscow's access to nuclear material through its 31 operating nuclear reactors and its nuclear weapons (despite massive reductions in its arsenal, Russia is thought to still have around 10,000 such devices) is all the more worrisome. No matter who killed Litvinenko, the world should have serious concerns about what is going on in Vladimir Putin's Russia."

What to do about Afghanistan

Pakistan's Dawn focuses its attention on Afghanistan. It says that faced with calls to disengage from Afghanistan, Nato politicians are forced to make claims of success that the situation on the ground does not substantiate.

"Speaking candidly, Pakistan should seek at least a partial restoration of both regionalism and bilateralism in addressing issues in Afghanistan. This means taking the country out of the global agenda in which the neo-conservative strategic thinkers had set the invasion five years ago.

"There is universal agreement that Afghanistan should never become a hotbed of terrorism again and for this purpose, it should be generously assisted by the international community. What is debatable is if the present policies at all advance that objective. A dispassionate analysis would warrant going back to the drawing board with a more humanitarian and disinterested agenda.

Does Turkey want to join the EU?

The Turkish Daily News

"Our prime minister has been trying to fool the entire Turkish nation into believing that the European Commission has decided to recommend that the EU Council slow down accession talks with Turkey when it has, in reality, recommended a partial suspension.

"Our government, for a change, must stop behaving according to that Pollyanna mentality, accept the bitter reality and be truthful with our people before we see the door closed in our face.

"We have to make a decision. Despite the fact that it is open ended, do we want the EU process to continue? If our answer is yes, then we should all realize that we should waste no time and concentrate on one issue: a negotiated compromise settlement on Cyprus under U.N. auspices. We should not waste any time; we should stop talking and engage in actions that will force the Greek Cypriots to return to the negotiations."


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The world's press is worried about what is happening in Putin's Russia

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