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Russia: Politics and Government

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had recent discussions with the Russian government on (a) the rule of law, (b) property rights, (c) human rights and (d) political stability in the Russian Federation; and if he will make a statement. (303661)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had detailed and wide ranging discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov when he visited Moscow from 1 to 3 November 2009. Topics included our concerns about human rights and the rule of law. The Foreign Secretary stressed both the importance of effective investigations into attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, including in the North Caucasus, and the importance of the rule of law in protecting property rights and safeguarding investments. The Foreign Secretary also met non-governmental organisations and civil society in Moscow, when he listened to their concerns and reasserted that the UK will continue raising human rights concerns as part of a comprehensive dialogue with the Russian authorities. I followed up these discussions during my recent meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin.

Human rights and the progress of Russian democracy are high on the agenda and we do not shy away from making our concerns known. We support President Medvedev’s ambition to improve the rule of law in Russia, as an important way of protecting human rights and reducing corruption. We want to see democracy in Russia deliver political pluralism and all its associated freedoms. We believe that an open and democratic Russia will provide better opportunities for the Russian people and consolidate Russia as a stable and reliable international partner for the global community.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spent £1.5 million supporting local human rights projects in Russia in 2008-09. These included promoting media freedom and journalists’ safety, particularly in the North Caucasus, preventing interethnic conflict and working with the families of conflict victims to improve access to justice through the European Court of Human Rights.