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Rice meets human rights leaders in Moscow

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Rice meets human rights leaders in Moscow

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After a day of tense talks in Moscow yesterday between Russia and the US over an American missile defence plan, today the focus has been on human rights. The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has met leading Russian human rights campaigners. She has told them Washington wants to help them build institutions to protect people from what she calls the arbitrary power of the state.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva is the chair of a human rights group called Moscow Helsinki: “Unfortunately here, while during the nineties we moved towards democracy with mistakes, from 2000 construction began on an authoritarian regime. Basically that has been built,” she said.

The US has been trying to ease Russian concerns about the plan to locate part of a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. President Putin repeated the threat that Moscow would pull out of an arms limitation treaty if the project went ahead. Observers say despite high hopes virtually no progress was made towards bridging the gap between the two countries.