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Russian Opposition Leaders Give Details Of Meeting With US Vice President

March 10, 2011

Moscow, 10 March: Co-chairman of the Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption party Vladimir Ryzhkov believes that US Vice-President Joseph Biden's meeting in Moscow with representatives of opposition parties was meaningful and constructive.

"Mr Biden was interested in the issue of censorship in the Russian media, and also of registration of opposition parties in elections," Ryzhkov told Interfax after the meeting.

Ryzhkov said that Boris Nemtsov and he had informed the US vice-president about the party that they were setting up, "which has not yet undergone the registration procedure, but, judging by opinion polls, was already in fifth place, behind the four parties represented in the State Duma".

Speaking at the meeting, Ryzhkov, Nemtsov, and also (United Civil Front leader) Garri Kasparov raised the issue of the need for sanctions against those Russian officials who grossly violated human rights. "I also spoke about the officials from the so-called Magnitskiy case and Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev list," Ryzhkov said (REFERENCE to the list of officials linked to the prosecution of the lawyer Sergey Magnitskiy, who died in pre-trial custody in November 2009, and the list of those involved in the prosecution and conviction of Yukos oil company founder Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and his business partner Platon Lebedev).

Asked why the other two co-chairmen of the party For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption, (former Prime Minister) Mikhail Kasyanov and (economist) Vladimir Milov, did not attend the meeting with the US vice-president, Ryzhkov said: "Personal invitations to the meeting were sent out by the US side".

As reported earlier, in addition to Ryzhkov, Nemtsov and Kasparov, the meeting with the US vice-president was attended by (former Yabloko party leader) Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, (Right Cause party co-chairman) Leonid Gozman, (Communist MP) Nina Ostanina and (A Just Russia MP and economist) Oksana Dmitriyeva.

For his part, co-chairman of the opposition Solidarity movement Boris Nemtsov told Interfax that the meeting with the US vice-president had been "very lively and meaningful, and made one feel optimistic". "We talked for an hour and a half in all. As for me, I said that the abolition of discriminatory measures in (as received) Russia, including the Jackson-Vanik amendment (denying Russia the most favoured status in trade with USA), was in the interests of both sides. If sanctions are to be imposed at all, they should be against our wretched officials," Nemtsov said.

Furthermore, he said, he "suggested that long-term monitoring of our elections should be carried out". "Our elections should be monitored not only on election day, but when the election campaign only just begins. Because fraud and violations here begin when the opposition is denied registration, and even if some opposition figures are registered, they are simply not allowed to campaign, and their rights are infringed in other ways too," Nemtsov said. (Nemtsov suggested to Biden that the monitoring of Russian elections should start this spring, and cover four aspects: the registration of political parties, TV censorship, the removal of candidates, and vote-counting, Gazprom-owned, editorially independent Russian news agency Ekho Moskvy quoted Nemtsov himself telling Ekho Moskvy radio after the meeting.)

He also said that a list of those whom the opposition regards as political prisoners in Russia had been handed to Biden.

Grigoriy Yavlinskiy discussed with Biden the prospects of setting up joint Russian-NATO missile defence, and the internal political situation in the Russian Federation, the Yabloko press service has told Interfax.

"Yavlinskiy regards joint missile defence as the most substantial and promising aspect of Russian-US security cooperation, which is importance not only for the two countries but for the whole world," Yabloko press secretary Igor Yakovlev said.

Touching upon the internal political situation in Russia, the former party leader said that its main difficulties, including the lack of vital democratic procedures, had long been known. In this context, he believes that it is important to realize that the issue that has to be tackled is the replacement of the system created back in the 1990s, and this is a much more complex and in-depth process than the change of personalities in power.

Yavlinskiy stressed that "tackling this problem is the task for the Russian public, who should rely, above all, on their own resources in this long and complicated work".

"Yavlinskiy listed equality in the eyes of the law, an independent judiciary, and inviolability of property as the main objectives of Russia's civil society as a whole and of the Yabloko party as its part," Yakovlev said.

For his part, co-chairman of the Right Cause party Leonid Gozman has told Interfax that Vice-President Biden was "very concerned about the situation with democracy, elections, censorship, and the registration of parties and public associations in our country". "I fully share these concerns because I am convinced that a democratic partner is much more reliable for the USA that an authoritarian one," Gozman said.

He said that at the meeting he "spoke not about the problems specific to the Right Cause party but about the situation in the country as a whole, characterizing it as fairly dangerous in terms of social and political stability". "I said that the situation in our country now is much less stable than it might appear at first glance, if one looks superficially, and that the crisis of confidence in state institutions and the personifications of these institutions is only mounting," Gozman stressed.

See also:

Russia's ABM Initiatives

Russia-US Relations

Russia and NATO

Grigory Yavlinsky discussed with US Vice President Joseph Biden the prospects of a joint Russia-NATO ABM system and political situation in Russia. Press Release. March 10, 2011



March 10, 2011

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