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Russia's human rights record should be improved - rights activists

MOSCOW. Dec 10 (Interfax) - Russia's human rights record is far from being ideal, human rights campaigners.

"All areas of life are vulnerable from the point of view of human rights today," Lyudmila Alexeyeva, leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia's oldest human rights organization, told Interfax.

The relationship between Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the country's authorities is riddled with problems, Alexeyeva said. "NGOs are being suppressed. The state's attitude to human rights activists has not changed in recent years," she said.

The most difficult situation with human rights can be seen in Russian courts, she added.

According to Lev Ponomaryov, leader of the For Human Rights movement, Russian NGOs have found themselves in a negative situation, and no positive changes have taken place in recent years.

"Today, the situation with NGOs is the same as it was earlier. Although, we are allowed to work now," Ponomaryov said.

Human rights campaigners have entered certain areas of social life, and it will be difficult to make them leave these spheres, the rights activist said.

"We can expect new problems amid the global financial crisis. We have to get ready for them. Thousands of people have already lost their jobs in small towns - the right to labor has been violated. Doubtlessly, there will be protests. But they need to be peaceful. Human rights campaigners will take part in them," Ponomaryov said.

"There have been serious violations of human rights in the penal system," he added.