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    MOSCOW HOPES UN HELPS RUSSIAN SPEAKERS IN FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS

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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is hoping that the UN Human Rights Commission will help solve the problems of Russian speakers living in the Baltic republics, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said at a RIA Novosti press conference.

    "During the session of the UN Human Rights Commission, we pointed out how outrageous the violation of relevant standards by Latvia and Estonia was," said the deputy minister. In his words, at issue is the implementation of universally accepted norms.

    Mr. Fedotov noted that the potential EU members should be guided by the norms approved by the majority of EU nations.

    "We are hopeful that the UN Human Rights Commission's vote will make it possible to improve the position of our compatriots in the Baltic countries," concluded the deputy minister.

    He remarked that the Russian delegation had managed to include provisions in defence of the minorities whose rights are being violated in some ways, in an entire series of resolutions of the commission's latest session." He also referred to Russia's initiative regarding lawless neo-Nazi and extremist organisations.

    Although this initiative contained no mentioning of any specific countries, everybody knows where parades of SS veterans are encouraged and monuments to them unveiled, said Mr. Fedotov.

    "This is why the Baltic nations were so indignant about our initiative," said Mr. Fedotov.

    "On the other side, such a reaction signifies that we have struck the point, and that this problem does exist," he added.

    The deputy minister stressed that at issue were dangerous forms of racism and intolerance, the rise of neo-Nazi groups, the so-called skinheads.

    "Such incidents have been registered in our country too, and relevant concerns have been repeatedly expressed at the top level," Mr. Fedotov acknowledged. In his words, relevant measures are being taken to prevent such incidents.

    "But we are worried when such incidents happen against the background of violating the rights of ethnic minorities," said the deputy minister.

    Yuri Fedotov also commented on the position of Russian speakers in Turkmenistan.

    "In practice, little has been done to improve the position of our compatriots living in Turkmenistan. Nonetheless, we have deemed it possible to refrain from voting at UN human rights session (April 15-17 in Geneva). Quite possibly, this issue will be raised at the upcoming 59th session of the UN General Assembly," he said.

    "By then, we will decide what our position will be like, considering all the circumstances and above all the real progress in improving Russian speakers' position in Turkmenistan," said Mr. Fedotov.

    In his words, "the EU and the US will submit a draft resolution on human rights in Turkmenistan for a second time." The deputy minister remarked, "last year we decided that the resolution was inexpedient." "This year we have had a serious conversation with the Turkmen side on Russian speakers' rights. We passed over to Turkmenistan an entire series of demands and concerns regarding the situation with Russian speakers. The reaction was promising," he said.

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