President Barack Obama on Friday told Russian rights activists that he is "proud of their work," saying Russia must remember to let civil society function freely.

Meeting with nine activists, including two representing LGBT groups, Obama said "it's important to remember that in every country, here in Russia, in the United States, around the globe, that part of good government is making sure that we're creating space for civil society to function."

This included ensuring "freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and making sure that people can join together and make common cause around the issues that we care deeply about," he added.