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    RUSSIA TO HIGHLIGHT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN LATVIA AT OSCE SESSION

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    MOSCOW, February 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will highlight human rights violations in Latvia, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma international affairs committee, who is leading the Russian delegation, said in an interview with RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

    "We are intent on drawing the OSCE's attention to the situation with the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic countries, including in Latvia, which amended its education law recently," said Mr Kosachev. /The amended law reduces Russian class hours in ethnic schools dramatically/.

    "We will insist that OSCE observers should be sent to Latvia," said the MP.

    He suggested that the winter session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly would also discuss Russia's developments in the wake of the December 2003 parliamentary elections. Some OSCE observers have described the Duma elections as "democratic but not free." "We do not want heated debates, but we will provide exhaustive explanations on the matter if need be, as we believe the Duma elections were democratic and free," said Mr Kosachev.

    "The OSCE has unfortunately turned into an organisation, which claims to evaluate the degree of democracy in different countries," added the MP.

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