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14 Aug, 2009 13:52

"Killers of human rights activists must be found" – Medvedev

Russia will make every effort to find the murderers of the human rights activists recently killed in Chechnya, President Medvedev assured his German counterpart Angela Merkel during talks in the resort city of Sochi.

Chechen killings

Three NGO members have been murdered over the last month in the republic, which has sent shock waves across Russia and in the world.

In July, Natalia Estemirova from the Memorial NGO was abducted in the Chechen capital Grozny. Her body was later found in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia. On August 11, two members of an NGO for the rehabilitation of children and physically challenged people – Zarema Sadulaeva and Alik Djabrailov – were kidnapped and later found dead by the police.

“It’s essential that those responsible for these awful killings be brought to justice,” said Chancellor Merkel at a media conference after the meeting. “The Russian president gave me assurances that this will happen inevitably.”

President Medvedev, for his part, reiterated that he has ordered security services to take all necessary measures.

“The major task for the law-enforcement services and the Prosecutor General’s Office is to find the murderers, bring them to justice and punish them,” he said.

Medvedev also outlined that the killings of human rights activists are a challenge for Chechnya’s leadership.

“No prospects for Russia-Ukraine relations”

Another sensitive issue journalists were interested in dealt with the recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

During the media conference, Medvedev was asked a question concerning Moscow’s relations with Ukraine, which are now at a stalemate.

The answer that followed was quite abrupt, but not that unexpected.

“I don’t see any prospects for the restoration of good relations [with Kiev] under the current leadership,” Medvedev responded.

He said the Russian-Ukrainian relationship has “drastically deteriorated”.

“I have already spoken about that openly – I am convinced that this is not Russia’s fault,” he continued.

Investments up

Although human rights and political issues have attracted a great deal of media attention, it was certainly economics that dominated the talks of the two leaders.

Speaking about German-Russian ties, both leaders noted the extension of economic cooperation.

“Despite the crisis, the amount of mutual investments has increased this year. This means we view such cooperation as a tool for the solution of the problems,” President Medvedev told journalists.

Among other things, Chancellor Merkel said that Germany’s government supports Russia’s initiative to buy Opel.

Nuclear issue on the table

As for the international agenda, the German Chancellor said that they discussed nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

She stressed that the international community should not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons but can hold talks with Teheran on common ground.

“On one hand, the international community should have resumed talks with Iran despite the difficult human rights situation in the country,” Merkel said. On the other hand, it is necessary to find a means to “prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms.”