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Activists protest against Russia's human rights record ahead of EU-Putin talks

Activists protest against Russia's human rights record ahead of EU-Putin talks

by Reuters

Human rights activists demonstrated outside the European Commission in Brussels on Monday (January 27), demanding the European Union to make Russia's human rights record a central part of an upcoming meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin expected to take place on Tuesday.

Chanting "Human rights are no game" and "Free speech, free love, free Russia", some two hundred demonstrators protested outside the EU Council building, the venue of tomorrow's EU-Russia summit.

Demonstrators said they stand in solidarity with the people of Russia and hope that the EU will address the human rights situation in the country.

"I hope very much that during the summit the EU raises the issue of human rights violations in Russia. The issues connected to recently adopted laws which seriously restrict human rights and different freedoms, like freedom of expression or freedom of assembly, especially raise issues on law on foreign agents which influence very much on Russian civil society and possibility that they operate freely and independently in Russia," said Taubina, an activist from Moscow and director of the foundation Public Verdict Foundation.

Russia has been under fire from human rights activists over a law that bans the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among minors. Caught in a pre-Sochi Olympic uproar over gay rights, Russian officials on their turn recently accused the EU of trying to enforce "an alien view" of homosexuality on other countries.

Putin will be accompanied on his trip by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and is scheduled to have talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.