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U.S. Department of State releases statement about freedom of assembly in Russia

It took quite a while after Dan Choi, Andy Thayer and a team of international activists were arrested for protesting the cancellation of Moscow Pride for our government to issue a statement, but here it is.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release

May 29, 2011

2011/855

STATEMENT BY MARK TONER, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

Concern about Freedom of Assembly in Russia

We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process.  We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.

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John @ Americablog has quite a bit to say about the statement, including the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has yet to comment.

UPDATE: Dan Choi’s response to the statement…

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Pam Spaulding

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