Amnesty International (AI) warned that the arrival of Western politicians for the 2018 World Cup in Russia would give Moscow an opportunity to use this fact for propaganda purposes.
AI Germany General Secretary Markus Beeko told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung publication that against the backdrop of massive restrictions of freedom of the press, speech and meetings in Russia, the annexation of a Ukrainian territory and Russia's involvement in international law violations in Syria, foreign politicians need to think twice before making a decision to come to Russia for the World Cup tournament.
When Beeko was asked whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier should go to Russia for the purpose, the official did not give a direct answer.
At the same time, Beeko reminded that governments of different countries traditionally use sports competitions to appear in favourable light to the public and demonstrate their greatness and recognition.
It is worthy of note that prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Western human rights defenders stirred international media hype over the issue of "harassment" of LGBT people in Russia. However, the topic quickly faded away as soon as the Games started.