Obama congratulates Putin on winning presidential race

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama spoke with Vladimir Putin and congratulated him on winning the presidential election in Russia, the White House announced Friday.

Obama and Putin, who is currently prime minister, spoke by phone Friday, five days after Putin won a return to the presidential post he held before protege Dmitry Medvedev's single term.

The United States has been somewhat cool to Putin, who has been highly critical of the United States — much more so than the man he's replacing. The late congratulations to Putin is an indication of the testy relationship.

Earlier Friday, a group of Russian human rights activists took the rare step of criticizing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for calling Putin the "clear winner" in the election. The rebuke came amid charges from election monitors of irregularities during Sunday's balloting.

The group of rights activists led by Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of Moscow Helsinki group, called Clinton's remarks "an insult."

Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

Obama congratulates Putin on winning presidential race 03/09/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 9, 2012 10:30pm]

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