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Albright brought up Nikitin in Moscow speech

Publish date: February 1, 1999

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought up the case of Alexandr Nikitin in her Moscow speech last Monday.

Albright visited Moscow for meetings with, among others, the Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Foreign Minister Ivanov and several Duma officials. US officials have several times during the Nikitin process discussed the violations of Nikitin’s legal rights with their Russian counterparts, but this is the first time an American official has referred to the case in public. There has been no official comment from Prime Minister Primakov in response to Albright’s questions.

In a remark after her meeting with representatives from different Non-Governmental organisations, Albright said Russia is fighting for the essence of civil society.

"When you demand legal structures that ensure justice and due process for everyone from hardened criminals, to dedicated activists such as Alexandr Nikitin, to ordinary citizens, you are courageously promoting a culture of tolerance where bigots are shunned and all are free to worship God in whatever way they choose," she said.

At the joint press conference after the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Albright compared America’s own experience with the building of democracy to today’s challenges in Russia.

"I expressed the concern of the international community that Russia stays on the path towards democracy and openness and work to combat extremism and anti-Semitism. The rule of law must apply to every Russian citizen, including journalists, religious activists and others such as Alexandr Nikitin," Albright said. Ivanov did not give any comment on the Nikitin case.

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