Russian rights activists appeal to West

Nov. 17, 2005 at 5:35 AM
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MOSCOW, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A group of prominent Russians has appealed to Western leaders to pay greater attention to Russia's record on democracy and human rights.

The group also stated that jailed businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky and several others should be recognized as political prisoners, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The 23 signatories of the statement -- posted Wednesday on Moscow Helsinki Group's Web site -- included Soviet-era dissidents, human rights activists, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

"We, representatives of Russian human rights organizations, scholars, people of culture and politicians, note with concern that ongoing political processes in Russia clearly indicate that there is an actual threat of massive campaigns against people whose views differ from the official position, a return of arbitrariness and suppression of human rights," the statement read in part.

Copies of the statement were sent to the leaders of 18 European nations.

Also Wednesday, the United Civil Front, an organization founded by Kasparov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was registered by the Russian Ministry of Justice as an interregional public organization, Interfax reported. The organization claims that it has 2,000 members in 40 regions of the country.

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