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EU's Ashton Concerned By Russia's Growing 'Intolerance' For Dissent

European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton (right) addresses members of the European Parliament as part of a plenary session in Strasbourg on September 11.
STRASBOURG, France -- The European Union's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has criticized Russia for what she calls a growing "intolerance of any expression of dissenting views."

In a speech on EU foreign policy at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on September 12, Ashton reiterated EU criticism of what she called the "disproportionate" sentence of three members of the Pussy Riot punk band jailed for two years for their antigovernment performance at a Moscow cathedral.

She said the Pussy Riot case and other recent developments in Russia constitute "a trend of great concern" for the EU.

She also said the Russian parliament had recently passed several pieces of legislation whose common aim appeared to be to "further reduce available space for independent, civil, and political activity in the country."
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