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Russia courts Southeast Asian leaders with authoritarian streaks

Putin's new pals tend to be wary of both China and the West

(Original picture by Reuters)

BANGKOK A quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is back in Southeast Asia, where creeping authoritarianism is giving Moscow room to maneuver.

A prime example is Cambodia, where the biggest opposition party has been forced to disband ahead of a general election in July. While Western governments have balked at what is shaping up to be anything but a fair poll, Russia has positioned itself as the key election observer.

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