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Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 29th June 2005.

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Photo of James Arbuthnot James Arbuthnot Shadow Minister (Trade and Industry)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has received about media independence in Russia; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Europe)

Since June 2004, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has received one letter about the murders of journalists in Russia and three parliamentary questions about media freedom in the Russian Federation. The FCO's contacts with the NGO community reinforce the conclusion that media freedom is an important issue in the democratic development of Russia.

We are actively engaged in a bilateral human rights dialogue with the Russian Government. The latest round of talks was held in Moscow on 23 May 2005 and included discussion of media freedom in Russia.

We are also engaged, with our European partners, in biannual EU-Russia human rights consultations. The first session of consultations took place in Luxembourg on 1 March 2005. Media freedom in Russia was discussed. The next round of consultations is scheduled to take place under the UK Presidency of the EU on 8 September 2005.

In addition to this, staff at our Embassy in Moscow continue to raise our concerns with their interlocutors in the Russian Government, including with official institutions in Russia that exist to protect and promote human rights.

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