Putin ready to discuss rights in Russia, US with Biden: Moscow

Moscow, Russia: President Vladimir Putin is ready to discuss a range of rights issues with his US counterpart Joe Biden when they meet next month, including the "persecution" of those behind the US Capitol riot, Moscow said Monday.

Biden on Sunday pledged to press the Kremlin chief to uphold human rights when they meet in Geneva in mid-June for their first summit.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Monday that Moscow would not shy away from discussing any issue at the summit and Putin could raise the January 6 protests in support of Biden's predecessor Donald Trump.

"Of course, we will be ready to discuss everything, including problems that exist in the United States," Lavrov told reporters. He said Russia was monitoring the "persecution" of those behind the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

"A lot of interesting things are happening there," he said, adding that Russia wanted to discuss "protection of opposition rights" in the United States.

The face-to-face summit meeting between Putin and Biden comes amid the biggest crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

Ahead of parliamentary elections in September, Russian authorities are ramping up pressure on the already embattled opposition.

Putin's leading domestic opponent, Alexei Navalny, is in prison, serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated, and authorities are gearing up to outlaw his political network.

Tensions between the US and Russia are also high over Ukraine and Belarus, which caused an uproar last week after authorities forced a European passenger plane to land in Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist.

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