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Clinton urges Russia over rights

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
Ms Clinton said Russia's prosperity depended on core freedoms

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Russia to respect human rights and the democratic process, as she ends her European tour.

She told Moscow students of her "great concern" at attacks on human rights defenders, saying people should be safe to challenge abuses of authority.

Later Ms Clinton travels to religiously and ethnically diverse Tatarstan, east of Moscow, before returning to the US.

Her five-day European trip has included stops in Zurich, London and Belfast.

On Tuesday, she met Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Dmitry Medvedev, but failed to win specific pledges from Moscow on tougher sanctions against Iran.

Nor could she meet Russia's key decision maker, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as he was visiting China.

'Every country has criminals'

Talking to students at Moscow State University on Wednesday, Ms Clinton said their country's prosperity was dependent on its willingness to cultivate core freedoms.

Just as Pushkin and Whitman reset poetry we are resetting our relations for the 21st Century
Hillary Clinton
US Secretary of State

"Citizens must be empowered to help formulate the laws under which they live," she said, adding: "They need to know that their investments of time, money and intellectual property will be safeguarded by the institutions of government."

Earlier, she was pressed by journalists on the failure of the Russian authorities to find the killer of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and on the imprisonment of ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

"I think all of these issues - imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings - is something that is hurtful to see from the outside," she told Echo of Moscow radio.

Hillary Clinton talks about democracy and journalism on a Moscow radio station

"Every country has its criminal elements, people who try to abuse power. But in the last 18 months... there have been many of these incidents.

"I think we want the government to stand up and say this is wrong."

Prior to the round-table discussion with students, Ms Clinton attended the unveiling of a statue of US poet Walt Whitman on the university's campus.

Whitman is often labelled the father of free verse, as well as being a prominent figure adopted by the gay pride movement.

"Just as Pushkin and Whitman reset poetry, we are resetting our relations for the 21st Century," she said.

A statue of the Russian Romantic poet Alexander Pushkin was placed at George Washington University, in Washington, in 2000.

Ms Clinton will be the first US secretary of state to visit the city of Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, a Muslim-majority republic which is often hailed as a model of multicultural tolerance.



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