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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mironov Talks Tough Ahead of EU Summit

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov sharply criticized the EU Energy Charter and Estonia on Tuesday, in the latest sign that talks will be difficult at a Russia-EU summit next week.

Mironov, who called a news conference to share his vision for the summit on May 17 and 18, said he opposed the Energy Charter Treaty and that Russia should continue to refuse to ratify it.

"Why should we allow a stranger on our territory and hand over our natural resources to him?" Mironov said.

The treaty is a sticking point between the European Union and Russia, which has snubbed it in what observers see as a Kremlin attempt to insulate energy firms from foreign competition and provide state protection for Russia's energy sector.

Mironov also took a swipe at the EU for raising concerns about democracy under President Vladimir Putin. "We cannot accept others teaching us democracy or how to live our lives," he said.

Turning to Russia's indignation over Estonia's relocation of a Soviet war memorial, Mironov complained that EU members had given tacit support to Estonia by their inaction. "The right thing to do would have been to take an unequivocal position rather than saying it was the internal affairs of Estonia," he said.

The Federation Council earlier called on Russia to cut off diplomatic ties with Estonia. As Mironov and other senior officials reprimanded Estonia, pro-Kremlin youth activists staged noisy, weeklong protests outside the Estonian Embassy, harassing the ambassador, tearing down an Estonian flag, and attacking the car of the visiting Swedish ambassador.

Mironov scolded the demonstrators Tuesday, saying, "The circus created before the Estonian Embassy was not worthy of a great country."

The European Union on Wednesday urged Russia to tone down its criticism of Estonia.

"We're in solidarity with the country which can't represent a threat to the big power that Russia is," EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said in Berlin.

One longtime Russia watcher predicted that Russian and EU officials would find the summit in the Volga River resort of Volzhsky Utyos, near Samara, more challenging than any other.

"The May Russia-EU summit is going to be the most difficult since the breakup of the Soviet Union," said Alexander Rahr, an analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations. "The agenda is completely overloaded with negative issues, ranging from Estonia to the energy charter, and even though Germany would like to integrate Russia, there is no way [Chancellor] Angela Merkel can walk through this."

n Samara authorities have rejected a request by The Other Russia to march in the city center at 5 p.m. May 18, Interfax reported Tuesday.

City officials cited road repairs along the proposed route and an inconvenient time as reasons for the denial. They suggested that the opposition demonstrators hold a rally at noon on May 21 in the Zarya stadium.

The Other Russia had wanted the march to coincide with the Russia-EU summit.