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    US SERVICEMEN AND IRAQIS PAY DEARLY FOR EFFORTS TO ENSURE HUMAN RIGHTS

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    MOSCOW, April 9, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Lukin, Russia's envoy for human rights, believes that by stepping up efforts to ensure human rights in Iraq the United States is only boosting the civilian casualty toll.

    "Developments in Iraq cause serious concerns for people's lives. The more persistent the United States gets in ensuring human rights in the region, the more people are killed or crippled, the more suffering it brings to the country, while settlement prospects become increasingly bleaker," Mr Lukin told reporters.

    "I am appealing to people across the world, who care about human rights, to express their concerns and disapproval of what is going on in Iraq in the most serious, energetic and clear-cut way," said the ombudsman.

    Mr Lukin recalled he had been among those who had warned the USA against hasty decisions in tackling such a complex problem as the Iraqi one. He believes the American administration must be told to stop, take a breath and think what's next, as there have been too many deaths.

    Last century has taught an important thing: the end does not justify the means. Whatever lofty principles and goals are cited to justify the military actions in Iraq, they will not help achieve those lofty goals, according to Mr Lukin.

    "On the contrary, these actions force Iraqis, who only recently enthusiastically welcomed American troops, to join efforts with different forces, or even under Saddam Hussein's portrait, who is, by all means, a fascist type political leader. The USA's policy has led to Iraqis uniting around a monster, whom they regard as their national symbol, as they have already abandoned hopes for freedom, which they pinned on the USA," said Mr Lukin.

    There is no freedom in Iraq, violence has swept the country, Mr Lukin said emphatically.

    He believes the problem can still be settled through negotiations.

    Russia insisted on the United Nations' role in resolving this problem, which was caused by the USA. However, today this will not be an easy task even with the UN's involvement, according to Mr Lukin.

    "The UN must settle this problem and it can do it more or less efficiently on condition the USA withdraw or bring its presence in the country to a minimum," said Mr Lukin.

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