U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned from meetings with top Russian officials to speak to the public on Wednesday, criticizing Moscow over the failure to solve the killings of journalists.
Clinton held a town hall-style meeting with students at the prestigious Moscow State University and gave a 20-minute live interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
She told the students that Washington wanted to see a strong and peaceful Russia that was an important partner for the United States and supported Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization.
However, she expressed concern about the killings of journalists in Russia, which she described as a threat to progress.
Clinton was earlier questioned by the Ekho Moskvy interviewer on the issue of murdered Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya and jailed founder of Yukos oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and although she said she did not raise their specific cases during her meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, she said there were too many similar cases.
"I think all of these issues - imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings - it is something that is hurtful to see from the outside," Clinton said. "Every country has criminal elements, every country has people who try to abuse power, but in the last 18 months...there have been too many of the incidents."
She added that the United States "did not believe that enough was being done to ensure no one had impunity from prosecution."
"I said that this is a matter of grave concern not just for the United States but for the Russian people, and not just for activists but people who worry that unsolved killings are a very serious challenge to order and the fair functioning of society," Clinton said.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has been one of the most dangerous countries for reporters. Politkovskaya's murder in October 2006 was the most high-profile case, but the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a recent report there had been 17 killings since 2000, and just one has been solved.