Russia's priority: to defend compatriots' rights abroad

One of Russia's political priorities is the defence of compatriots' rights abroad, above all in the Baltic states and former Soviet republics, First Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin said Wednesday during the Duma's "government hour".

Efforts are being made to consolidate the Russian language as an idiom of inter-ethnic communication. Problems of war veterans are being considered above all.

Loshchinin also drew attention to the fact that criminal gangs use the mediation of tourist companies and marriage agencies which, under the pretext of granting jobs, take Russian citizens abroad where they are sometimes treated as slaves or subjected to sexual violence. The past year has seen 102 Russian citizens, including 72 in Germany, applying to Russian foreign representative offices.

The Education Ministry indicates that 5,000-6,000 minors are exported from Russia annually, most of them being adopted by families in the USA, Canada, Western Europe and New Zealand. The Russian foreign ministry is rather concerned over the fact. The government, said Loshchinin, intends to submit for Duma ratification a convention on the observance of adopted children's rights, signed by Russia.

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