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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, French President Jacques Chirac, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Chateau de Compiegne near Paris on September 23, 2006.
Photo: Dmitry Azarov
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Sep. 27, 2006
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Russian President Considered Unworthy of Award
// Reporters Without Borders Criticizes the Awarding of the Legion of Honor to Vladimir Putin
The international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders has sharply criticized French President Jacques Chirac for awarding Russian President Vladimir Putin the republic's highest honor, the Legion of Honor. The reporters called Mr. Chirac's actions "unworthy of France" and an "insult to those who are fighting in Russia for freedom of the press, freedom of information, and preservation of effective democracy," saying that Mr. Chirac's decision amounted to an approval of Mr. Putin's policies.
Mr. Chirac awarded Mr. Putin the Legion of Honor on September 23, saying on the occasion, "France highly esteems the contribution of Russia's president to the development of multilateral cooperative relations."

Elsa Vidal, the head of the European bureau of Reporters Without Borders, objected to the fact that the meeting in Paris between Mr. Putin, Mr. Chirac, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel passed "without a word spoken about the situation of human rights and freedom of speech in Russia." The group's statements also mentioned "the plugging-up of the mouth of the press," "the information blockade of Chechnya," and "the murder of journalists."

The group has long been critical of Russia for the country's perceived negative stance on human rights and freedom of speech. In May of this year the group released its annual report, in which Vladimir Putin was listed along with such luminaries as Belorussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, and Islamist groups operating in Afghanistan and Iraq as one of 37 "enemies of the freedom of the press." In its freedom of speech rankings, the groups ranks Russia 138 out of 167.
Ekaterina Savina and Konstantin Benyumov

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 27, 2006

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