German human rights commissioner reports little progress in Russia

Published: September 29, 2010

Germany’s commissioner for human rights, Markus Loening, says rights activists in Russia are still struggling against a government that is unsympathetic to their cause and which takes measures to hamper their work.

Loening made the comments after returning from a three-day visit to Russia that saw him meet with human rights and gay rights activists as well as non-governmental organizations.

The commissioner reported being warmly welcomed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, but said that the country still had some way to go to ensuring some basic freedoms. He said the Russian government had "a completely wrong understanding" when it came to rights most Europeans take for granted, such as freedom of assembly.

"It’s clear that the state there has this understanding: that citizens may only demonstrate when they are permitted to do so, and where they are permitted to do so," Loening said. "But of course this is not an acceptable position."

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