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CLINTON BLASTS GOVERNMENTS FOR'CRUSHING'ACTIVIST GROUPS

Associated Press

KRAKOW, Poland - Intolerant governments across the globe are "slowly crushing" activist and advocacy groups that play an essential role in the development of democracy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday.

She cited a broad range of countries where "the walls are closing in" on organizations such as unions, religious groups, rights advocates and other nongovernmental organizations that press for social change.

Among those she named were Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, China and Russia.

Before several hundred senior government officials, Clinton recalled Winston Churchill's warning 64 years ago that an iron curtain was descending across Europe. She noted that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, that curtain no longer remains.

Clinton spoke at the opening of a 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the 16-member Community of Democracies, which is meant to forge international consensus on ways to support and promote democracy.

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