Russia lashes out at US human rights criticism


Reuters
Date: 03-10-06

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday that criticism of its human rights record in the latest annual report by the U.S. State Department, seen as unfair in Moscow, could overshadow bilateral relations.

The report posted on the State Department web portal on Wednesday (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005) contained a long list of human rights problems in Russia ranging from abductions in rebel Chechnya to police corruption and negative official attitudes toward non-governmental organizations.

"Even an initial analysis of the State Department report shows that it is full of distorted facts and appears to be a specimen of explicit double standards in assessing human rights," a Russian Foreign ministry statement said.

Russia, whose human rights record is traditionally treated with suspicion in the West, has become especially sensitive to the issue since President Vladimir Putin assumed the rotating presidency of the G8 group of leading democracies this year.

U.S. President George W. Bush has so far refrained from publicly raising the issue of human rights and democracy with Putin, whom he sees as a key ally in the war on terror.

But the White House feels pressure from lawmakers and officials concerned about what they see as the Kremlin's tightening grip on the media and growing intolerance of political opposition.

Influential nationalists in Russia for their part feel frustrated by U.S. criticism, which they see as an attempt to interfere in the country's internal affairs.

"Unfortunately, such unfair reports stand in the way of developing U.S.-Russian relations," the Foreign ministry said.

"They create in Russian society a feeling that U.S. policy toward is biased and encourages anti-Russian sentiment in American society."



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