ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thank you John. Let me also welcome you here, it’s nice to see everybody and thanks for taking the time to come out. There are two reasons I wanted to meet with this group early in my visit. As the Ambassador said, this is literally the first visit that I’m having off the plane. One reason is to hear from you all who are working these issues every day, about the challenges you face in building the sort of Russia we want to see that is more democratic, with respect for human rights, transparency. And the other is by doing the meeting visibly to demonstrate our support for your work on those very issues.
I hope you’ll agree that we have stuck to that principle. In every meeting I’ve been in with the President and his Russian counterparts or the Secretary of State and her Russian counterparts, human rights and democracy and our strong support for rule of law and transparency has been high on the agenda.
And you’ll remember, of course, when President Obama was here last summer at the summit and meeting with NGOs and political opposition and students, again, as a sign of our vigorous support for a vibrant civil society in Russia and a chance for him to hear personally from people like you about what the real situation is.
We know that what you do is not only difficult but sometimes even dangerous. We’re well aware of cases like Anna Politkovskaya, Paul Klebnikov, Natalya Estemirova, and of course we’re coming on the anniversary of the Magnitsky case and we are very conscious of those issues and focused on them in our bilateral discussions with Russia.
So I know you are all regularly in close touch with the Ambassador and the embassy on these issues and they of course report to us in Washington, but again I see this as an opportunity to hear from you directly. So again, thank you very much for coming and I look forward to some conversation. Spasibo.