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    LUKIN PLEDGES AS OMBUDSMAN TO FOCUS ON RIGHTS OF CHILDREN, DISABLED, PENSIONERS AND WOMEN

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    MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Lukin, tipped as Russia's human rights commissioner, has described his future priorities as concern for children, especially homeless, orphans and children from problem families, and the rights of the disabled, pensioners and women. He was speaking on Friday at a plenary meeting of the State Duma. Lukin, recommended for this post by President Vladimir Putin, is, according to observers, the most probable ombudsman of Russia. The vote on his candidacy will take place in the State Duma on Friday.

    Lukin, one of the founders of the Yabloko party and Russia's former ambassador to the US, remarked that the 21st century belongs to those countries that "are set not on power itself, but on concern for the welfare of their citizens." The candidate pointed to the positive experience of Sweden as a country with developed democracy and high living standards.

    He recalled that it was Sweden that early in the 19th century established the institution of the ombudsman. In Lukin's view, this is evidence that the effectively functioning institution of the human rights commissioner in the country has a positive impact on the development of society in general.

    "The history of many countries, including Russia, shows that the state is strong only when it observes the interests not of a narrow circle of persons, but of all society in general," the candidate said.

    "It is only in a democratic country that citizens can participate in the day-to-day running of the state, and protect the country against threats, including that of terrorism," he emphasized.

    Lukin recalled that the rights of Russians are spelled out in the existing constitution. But not all of them are observed, and "need protecting throughout," he noted.

    "Working in this sphere (as the human rights commissioner) appeals to me," Lukin concluded.

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