British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday met six Russian human rights activists including Dmitry Muratov, editor of pro-opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Oleg Orlov – a campaigner recently acquitted in a slander case against Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The British prime minister arrived in Moscow on Monday, his first visit, amid mounting international pressure to follow the lead of the United States by introducing visa bans for individuals linked to the death of Heritage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
“We discussed various aspects of the human rights situation in Russia. We spoke about torture in the prisons, and touched on the Magnitsky case. We showed him [Cameron] a list of persons who should be brought to trial over Magnitsky’s death,” Orlov said.
Cameron is facing pressure to confront the Russian side over the death of Magnitsky, the prosecution of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the fairness of the upcoming Duma elections.
During the meeting Muratov presented a prison uniform to Cameron, saying: “The court refused to parole [Khodorkovsky’s associate] Platon Lebedev over the loss of such a uniform.”
Cameron’s visit is the first by a British leader since 2006, and the first since former Russian spy and outspoken Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium in central London that same year. His death led to both the UK and Russia expelling diplomats.
Telling the rights activists he had raised the Litvinenko case, he added: “Having good relations doesn’t mean sweeping problems under the carpet, it means talking about them.”
This indicates that Europe is viewing the situation with the human rights in Russia with increased attention, Orlov said. “We realize that no one can help Russia become a democratic country from outside. But the European partners can help it fulfill its commitments.”