Miliband in Moscow and the need to link Russia-UK relations with human rights


Bob has an opinion article in today’s edition of the Guardian stressing the importance of linking human rights with foreign relations during David Miliband’s visit to Russia this week, and elsewhere in the same paper, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s mother has issued her own appeal to the foreign secretary.

At least one report confirms that Khodorkovsky’s case will indeed be discussed.

Miliband has started on this path already, apparently. He met with human rights activists today where, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Libery, he “expressed his concern over the killings of activists of nongovernmental organizations in Russia and the pressure that is being imposed on civil society.”

Miliband also pressed Russia to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect in the 2006 killing of former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radioactive polonium poisoning in a London hospital. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cites the Russian law forbidding extradition of Russian citizens and the “lack of evidence” as reasons for ignoring Miliband’s petitions on this matter.

The Times of London lowers overall expectations, arguing that while Washington has approached Moscow with a “reset” button, a “modest defrost” is the most one can hope for in Russia’s relations with the UK considering that Mr. Miliband himself has been quoted as saying that the two countries “‘do not see eye to eye’ on many matters, nor do they share many interests or values.”

Finally, Russia Today has the most thorough online video coverage I can find so far of the ministers themselves (BBC also has video footage up here):