Human rights appeal as Putin to visit Vienna

Greens MP Alexander Van der Bellen appealed to Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann to mention human rights issues as he is set to meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tomorrow (Sat).Judo black belt-sporting Putin is expected to spend the weekend in Vienna as part of a non-official visit to attend the Judo World Championships which started earlier this week. No detailed information on how the former Russian president planned to spend his time in the Austrian capital has been announced due to safety concerns.Van der Bellen, who is the opposition Greens’ foreign affairs issues spokesman, said today: “I expect the chancellor to raise the question of human rights in Russia when he meets the Russian Prime Minister.”The former Greens chief said today he also hoped Faymann and Putin would discuss energy matters.”Russia exports gas, but faces problems when it comes to supplying its own people with energy. Setting the focus just on fossil energy sources won’t solve the problem,” Van der Bellen said.Van der Bellen claimed Russia must be more efficient when it comes to handling its energy resources.He also appealed on Faymann to speak with Putin about the controversial preparations and construction work in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and criticised Austrian companies for being involved in building facilities in the city.”These Olympics will take place in the heart of a protected nature resort,” Van der Bellen said.Meanwhile a “Silent Vigil for Anna Politkovskaya and the freedom of press in Russia” was held by NGO “Resistance for Peace” in the city centre of Vienna earlier today. Activists held up posters with slogans such as “Dictator Putin kills Free Press”.The death of Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in 2006, is still unsolved. The awarded journalist was an outspoken Putin critic. She made an international name for herself with her reports about the Russian-Chechen war.