WASHINGTON – The United States has denounced the ongoing pattern of intimidation and violence against those who express dissent across Russia, shortly ahead of the meeting scheduled to be held between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
“The United States remains troubled by the ongoing pattern of intimidation and violence against those who express dissent across Russia, including independent journalists, members of the political opposition, and civil society,” the US Department of State said in a statement released on Thursday.
Washington released the statement “in honor” of journalists Natalya Estemirova and Paul Klebnikov, killed in 2009 and 2004, respectively.
Estemirova, a human rights activist, was kidnapped and killed in Chechnya, while Klebnikov, a US national, was murdered “likely in retaliation for reporting on official corruption and graft,” according to the statement.
“Neither the killers nor those who ordered these crimes have been brought to justice,” Washington said.
The Trump Administration called for “an end to the impunity for human rights abuses in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia” and showed its support for “brave journalists and human rights defenders in Russia and around the world.”
Last week, the US Department of State released another statement condemning eroding press freedom in Russia over approval of legislation in the Duma to extend the “foreign agent” designation from media outlets to individual people taking part in the creation of materials for media.
“This bill could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work,” the earlier statement read.
Fresh criticism comes amid Trump’s visit to Europe and just four days ahead of his upcoming meeting with Putin scheduled for July 16 in Helsinki.