Council of Europe commissioner Gil-Robles to present rights report on Russia to Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia had made great strides in the protection of human rights over the past 10-15 years but that it still had problems that merited close attention.

He spoke during a meeting with the human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, Alvaro Gil-Robles, who presented Putin with the group's rights report on Russia.

The report by the continent's top rights watchdog, which was issued last month, urges Russia to abolish the death penalty, combat police violence and safeguard minority rights, particularly in Chechnya. It also calls on Moscow to improve prison conditions, guarantee full freedom of expression and strengthen the independence of the judiciary.

"We'll pay careful attention to the conclusions laid down in the report and will work strenuously during the next two years not merely to react, but to change the situation in some areas," Putin told Gil-Robles.

The commissioner called Russia "a great European democracy" and he said it should be held to the same standards as all the members of the Council of Europe.

"I've had a very positive response from your government, from the interior and justice ministers, and I thank you for making a general response to the commissioner's report," Gil-Robles said. "But there are still problems, Mr. President, and these problems must be addressed."

Associated Press

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