Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Thomas Melia conducted a productive working visit to Moscow from June 13th to the 15th with his counterpart on the Bilateral Presidential Commission Civil Society Working Group, Ambassador Konstantin Dolgov. He also met with independent journalists and bloggers, human rights defenders, including LGBT activists, and other civil society figures. Other meetings included the Head of the Presidential Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov and other Council members, as well as Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.
Mr. Melia and Ambassador Dolgov discussed cooperation within the framework of the Civil Society Working Group in areas ranging from combating corruption, protecting children, addressing legal and illegal migration as well as trafficking in persons, and improving conditions in prisons. The two co-chairs reviewed ongoing work of the sub-groups in these areas, agreeing that this should continue. Melia also proposed ways in which the U.S. and Russian governments along with civil society could broaden the dialogue on fostering a vibrant and independent civil society.
During his consultations, Melia reiterated U.S. support for fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and association. He expressed concern about recent developments in Russia, including controversial legislation on assembly, and apparent harassment of opposition figures to preclude their participation in peaceful demonstrations. Melia also raised U.S. concern about the application of the law on extremism.
Melia noted that he looks forward to a fruitful plenary session of the Civil Society Working Group in the months to come as part of the overall work of the Bilateral Presidential Commission.
Originally posted on the U.S. Embassy Moscow website.