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Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding US State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices Around the World

324-12-03-2008

The US State Department’s annual report on human rights practices around the world again in a mentor-like tone voices a hackneyed collection of claims regarding Russia, such as departure from the principles of democratic government, the harassment of dissenters and restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press. Many passages are copied from previous reports: One gets the impression that the State Department just hand-picked material to fit pre-articulated conclusions.

The document, unfortunately, abounds in groundless accusations, citations of unverified and obviously engaged sources, mistakes and juggling of facts, particularly in latest event coverage. We would like, in particular, to remind our American colleagues alleging nonconformance of December’s State Duma elections to OSCE standards that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ politicized approaches were never approved by the OSCE member states as generally binding rules of conduct. Further, it is the US and other western countries that have been refusing to work out and approve clear and distinct principles.

The report is yet another demonstration of the “double standards” in US human rights policy. It clearly exhibits a division of human rights for external and domestic consumption. How else can one explain that the United States – which has essentially legalized torture, applies capital punishment to minors, denies responsibility for war crimes and massive human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, refuses to join a series of human rights treaties – distortedly comments on the situation in other countries? Meanwhile, the US uses the struggle to spread democracy and the defense of human rights as a cover, totally disregarding systemic problems within its own country.

But then we did not expect from the State Department’s latest opus an objective assessment of the human rights situation in Russia. After all, the US has long since been regarding human rights as a foreign policy tool.

Russia is open for a human rights dialogue with interested states, both in a bilateral format and in international organizations. In particular, we presume that the procedure for a universal periodic review of the human rights performance of all countries of the world, created by the UN Human Rights Council, will make it possible without bias or prejudice on a regular basis to discuss all existing problems with a view to their joint settlement. We are currently awaiting with interest such a UN report on human rights observance in the US; for in the US itself, unlike Russia, no reports are released.

We are convinced that politicizing human rights issues and distorting the human rights situation in various countries tends to devalue the principles and purposes of international cooperation in this field rather than helping to solve existing problems.


March 12, 2008