RIA Novosti: London activists try to pass on ‘presents’ to Medvedev, Putin

17:17 15/02/2011

Russian opposition activists in London on Tuesday asked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to hand over a number of “gifts” to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The Speak Up! movement activists approached Lavrov after he gave a talk at the London School of Economics.

They said they also asked Lavrov to pass their presents on to former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, suspected by UK investigators of the 2006 poisoning of Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko with the radioactive substance polonium-210.

“To Andrei Lugovoi we send real English tea, a bundle of grass [Lugovoi’s name means ‘meadow’] without polonium, to Putin we send the [Russian] constitution and a magnifying glass,” the movement said in a statement.

President Medvedev was treated to a note saying “Free Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.”

Already in detention since 2003, former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were sentenced to another six years in prison in a politically tinged trial in December.

Lavrov said the presents will reach their addressees.

LONDON, February 15 (RIA Novosti)

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The Moscow News: Lavrov urged to tackle human rights

© Photo REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Protestors confronted Sergei Lavrov in London over Russia’s human rights record as the foreign minister promoted stronger ties between Moscow and the UK.

Andrei Sidelnikov, of rights group Speak Up, asked Lavrov to deliver a message calling on President Dmitry Medvedev to free political prisoners.

“We would like to tell the truth about what happens every day in Russia,” Sidelnikov told The Moscow News. “[People] are persecuted every day by special [security forces] and they are persecuted by the government.”

Speak Up says it is seeking justice for former Yukos owners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, and looking to bring Andrei Lugovoi to trial for the murder of former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London.

Britain’s request for the extradition of Lugovoi, who is now a Duma deputy, remains a major stumbling block in attempts to improve relations between Westminster and the Kremlin.

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Heckler highlights brittle UK-Russian relations

LONDON | Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:11pm GMT

(Reuters) – A Russian dissident living in Britain interrupted a lecture by Russia’s visiting foreign minister on Tuesday, calling for the release of a jailed tycoon and drawing attention to Moscow’s patchy democracy record.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was speaking at the London School of Economics when dissident Andrei Sidelnikov shouted about the murder of a Kremlin critic in London five years ago.

Russia refuses to extradite Andrei Lugovoy, whom Britain wants to prosecute for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian state security officer who died in London in 2006 from poisoning by radioactive polonium-210.

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RIA Novosti: Russian opposition in London rallies ahead of Lavrov’s speech

Russian opposition in London rallies ahead of Lavrov's speech

Activists of the recently established Speak Up! international movement are picketing the London School of Economics, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to deliver a speech later on Tuesday.

Activists are holding portraits of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, Andrei Lugovoi, who is suspected in Britain in Litvinenko’s murder, and jailed ex-oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

Lavrov will officially open the Russian Business Week (RBW) at the London School of Economics on Tuesday.

Established in late January, Speak Up! is practically the first political movement of Russians in Western Europe. Organizers say it was founded “in response to the Russian authorities’ systematic attempts to erode the foundations of civil society in Russia.”

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Press Release

London, January 27th, 2011 – “Speak Up!” a new international movement, has been launched.

“Speak Up!” was founded in response to the Russian authorities’ systematic attempts to erode the foundations of civil society in Russia. The movement strives to unite everyone who will not accept the violations of basic rights and freedoms of Russian people, endemic corruption and abuse of power by the authorities and utter contempt for the constitution.

“Speak Up!” is the first Russian movement to unite people across the West. We are building a platform for constructive discussions of Russia’s future.

Our activities will fall into three broad streams.

Unite. It is estimated that more than 350,000 Russian speakers live in the UK alone – people of various age, backgrounds and views. What they have in common is that they are not able to voice their concerns over developments in Russia. We are aiming to change that.

Enlighten. We are going to engage with the people and leaders of the Western countries. Russia might be a valuable trading partner but fundamental rights and freedoms must be held in higher regards than short-term financial interest. We will keep repeating that.

Discuss. Many of us remain passive simply because they think that no one person can change anything. This week we have launched the trial version of our website Gromche.org. Conceived as the home of meaningful discussions, it will transcend the geographic boundaries in bringing together the people who are interested in Russia and care about its future. In the coming months we will initiate debates on a wide range of topics, both online and across the globe.

When a state persistently violates the rights of its citizens, the citizens have to raise their voices. In the absence of free elections this is no mean feat. We feel responsible for Russia and we believe that we can change it for the better. Crucially, we also believe that our numbers are greater than they seem.

Speak Up and you will be heard!

Andrey Sidelnikov

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