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Russian president pays visit to one of his fiercest critics

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MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has paid a rare visit to a Russian human rights icon to congratulate her on her 90th birthday.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva is a dissident who challenged the Soviet regime and Russian authorities for decades, advocating for democratic rights and seeking justice for political prisoners. She is still one of Putin's most scathing critics. Pro-Kremlin groups have vilified Alexeyeva, calling her a foreign agent who seeks to undermine state interests.

Alexeyeva co-founded the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia's oldest human rights organization, in 1976 and has been one of the fiercest opponents of new repressive laws targeting non-governmental organizations with foreign funding, which also affected the Helsinki group.

Putin sat down with Alexeyeva at her Moscow apartment over glasses of bubbly.

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