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    MOSCOW, January 27, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin believes that trade in people is one of the most dangerous threats to civilisation. The Russian President expressed this viewpoint in his message to the first All-Russia Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations on Slave Trade.

    The Kremlin press service told RIA Novosti that the document says, in particular:

    "You have been united by the aspiration to make your active contribution to the solution of the most urgent social and legal problems of our days." "Every year, millions of men, women and children all over the world are being purchased, sold, transferred and kept against their will. Slave trade is becoming one of the most dangerous threats to civilisation on a par with organised crime, terrorism, drug addiction and drug trafficking.

    "Russia consistently meets its obligations in combating these crimes. The adopted amendment to the Russian Criminal Code, which envisages punishment for slave trade and excludes impunity from such activities.

    "I hope that the work of your forum will draw the attention of the public to the problems of trade in people, will unite the efforts of state bodies and non-governmental organisations and will help solve this problem."

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