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Watchdog Calls On EU To Press Russia On Human Rights

20 May 2004 -- The Human Rights Watch group is urging the European Union to use an upcoming summit with Russia to raise concerns about the country's human rights record.

In a new statement, Human Rights Watch describes Russia's rights record as "steadily worsening."

The New York-based group accused President Vladimir Putin's government of persistently undermining the political freedoms of Russians, pursuing politically motivated prosecutions, increasingly repressing the media, and continuing what it called the "brutal" operation in Chechnya.

Top EU leaders including Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland, the EU's current president, and European Commission head Romano Prodi are set to arrive in Moscow to participate in the summit opening on 21 May.