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CIS: Russia must speak out on rights abuses: Clinton

Wed Oct 14 23:32:08 EST 2009
Wed Oct 14 12:32:08 UTC 2009

MOSCOW, Oct 14 AFP - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged Russia to take a stronger line on rights abuses, saying it was time for the government to speak out against killings and wrongful detentions.

Clinton was pressed on the second day of her visit to Russia to respond to the failure of the authorities to find the killers of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the imprisonment of ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

"I think all of these issues -- imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings -- is something that is hurtful to see from the outside," she told Echo of Moscow radio in an interview, without mentioning the cases by name.

"Every country has its criminal elements, people who try to abuse power. But in the last 18 months ... there have been many of these incidents.

"I think we want the government to stand up and say this is wrong."

Russia has failed to find the killers of Politkovskaya three years after she was shot dead in the stairwell of her apartment block in central Moscow. Clinton appeared to raise concern that suspects could be being protected.

In her meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, Clinton said she had made clear "that we did not believe that enough was being done to ensure no one had impunity from prosecution".

"This is a matter of great concern not just to the United States but to the people of Russia... Unsolved killings are a very serious challenge to the fair functioning of society," she added.

Khodorkovsky is another cause celebre of Russian rights activists, who allege he has been jailed for daring to finance opposition parties. The authorities however insist he is guilty of grave financial crimes.

Meanwhile, Clinton expressed regret that "schedules" had meant she had not been able to meet the man seen as Russia's true number one, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is currently visiting China.

"I would have enjoyed meeting with Prime Minister Putin. We had certainly intended to do so but our schedules did not work out.

"So I look forward to seeing him on a future occasion."