European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said at a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today that the bloc is seriously concerned about the situation in Russia for human rights activists and journalists.
Van Rompuy made the remarks after talks with Medvedev in the Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu.
He said he also spoke to Mededev about Europe's concerns regarding "the climate of impunity" in Chechnya and other areas of the North Caucasus.
Medvedev spoke at the start of today's summit, saying the talks would cover a wide array of issues.
"We're going to talk today about everything that characterizes the multifaceted relations between Russia and the European Union," he said. "We'll talk about the economy, emergency situations, global and European security, regional problems and, of course, we're going to discuss the Iranian nuclear program, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East peace process."
Visa-free travel and modernizing Russia's economy are also on the agenda.
"I handed a draft agreement on abolishing visa restrictions between Russia and the European Union to our partners in the course of this summit," Medvedev said today. "I hope it becomes the first stone in the foundation of the decision to lift visa restrictions."
The summit comes as EU member states are struggling with debt crises, cutting spending, and introducing unprecedented austerity measures.
compiled from agency reports