RUSSIAN OMBUDSMAN TO DEFEND RUSSIANS ABROAD

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MOSCOW, March 25, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The institute of human rights ombudsman in Russia will uphold the interests of Russians both in and outside Russia, said federal ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

"Undoubtedly, we will promote the interests of our compatriots living outside Russia by all means," he said Thursday at a press conference in RIA Novosti.

According to Mr. Lukin, this refers to the violation of Russians' rights in Baltic countries.

The observation of human rights of ethnic minorities in the Baltic and other neighbouring countries were under discussion during Mr. Lukin's recent trip to Strasbourg, at a conference of human rights ombudsmen. Some of these problems, the ombudsman said, "were shared" by his EU colleagues.

Mr. Lukin recalled that, in view of the recent events in Kosovo, he had called upon the EU and the US to give up double standards in defending ethnic minorities' rights.

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