Sir Peter Ricketts, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Permanent Under-Secretary, raised rule of law issues with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Titov during his visit to Moscow on 22 to 24 April.
The UK holds annual bilateral human rights discussions with Russia. These were last held in January 2007, and the next meeting is planned for later this year. We also raise our concerns through the EU/Russia human rights consultations, which were last held on 17 April.
We have a mature and frank relationship with Russia and do not shy away from making our concerns known on human rights and democracy. We want to see democracy in Russia deliver political pluralism and all its associated freedoms. We believe that an open and democratic Russia will consolidate Russia as a stable and reliable international partner for the global community.
During the parliamentary election in December 2006 and the presidential elections in March 2007, the UK, along with the EU and international observers, raised concerns about the degree of democracy exhibited throughout the election periods. Of particular concern were the unacceptable conditions Russia placed on international observers, limits to restrict the field of candidates and the lack of equal media access for opposition candidates.
According to recent reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, both the non-governmental organisation law and the law on extremist behaviour have been used to target and restrict certain individuals and non-governmental organisations. Media freedom and the situation facing human rights defenders are recurrent themes during both the bilateral and EU/Russia human rights dialogues. As a result, we welcome President Medvedev's focus on the need to strengthen the rule of law in Russia.