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Russia’s Human Rights Advocates Feel the Cold Shoulder from Europe

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(L-R) Russia’s Tanya Lokshina, head of human rights group DEMOS, Oleg Orlov, head of Memorial Human Rights Center and Sacha Koulaeva, head of FIDH Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk, address a joint news conference in Brussels October 3, 2007, one year after the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. REUTERS/Thierry Roge (BELGIUM)

Yesterday a group of 11 civil society leaders from Russia met with the human rights committee of the European Parliament in Brussels. Lev Ponomarev, a human rights activist whose work has been exclusively translated to English on this blog, sharply criticized Europe’s complacency and lack of progress on its human rights dialogue with Russia:

“We believe that the existing consultations with the European Union are not effective,” Ponomaryov said. “In a certain sense, now that they are being held for a [sixth] time, they have reached a dead end. What is the main problem? The main problem is that it is a dialogue between the deaf and the blind. We say one thing [to the EU] — and [Russian authorities] do not attend our talks with our Western interlocutors — and [EU officials] say another thing at their talks with their Western colleagues where we are not present. After all that, there is no follow-up.”