The 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices was issued by the US State Department on Thursday. Russia was listed along with other “authoritarian” countries, next to Egypt and Sri Lanka.
According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Michael Posner, assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor, these three countries misuse “national security legislation to apply widespread restrictions of basic civil liberties.”
In particular, the report stated that in 2009, Russia failed to create conditions for free and democratic elections; its multi-party system was poorly developed; Russian officials limited the freedom to assemble, using corrupted and violence-prone police to dissolve peaceful demonstrations; murders of legal defenders and journalists continued, including the murder of an outstanding journalists Natalia Estimirova, etc.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already released its official comments: “Everything in the report is traditional and even ritual – approach, statements, and informants. We have not noticed any difference in this respect despite the “reset” in our relations declared by current administration. It is an open secret that this piece of writing is first and foremost designed to tackle internal policy tasks of the American establishment by means of using the subtle subject of human rights. It was designed to create necessary political framework to promote certain material foreign policy interests.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers the intent of the State Department to publish a report regarding human rights in the US positive news. “We expect to see the reflection of facts as well as their critical assessment,” representatives state. In particular, Russian diplomats will be “interested to know how the State Department that likes lecturing others about the issues of human rights would comment torture and inhumane treatment that take place in the US.”
They are talking not only about “widely known cases in Bagram and Guantanamo, which still functions despite the promises, but also American prisons and streets.” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also hoping that “violence and murder in families, including those raising children adopted from Russia, as well as racism and xenophobia towards migrants; islamophobia, interference of special services in private life and limiting measures in respect of journalists highlighting American foreign operations will not be left out.”
According to Konstantin Zatulin, director of the Institute for CSI countries, Russia, like the United States and a number of other countries, has issues with human rights. He believes that “any categorization and equating Russian issues with those of Sri Lanka and Egypt or other countries is conformist.” “If, for instance, we touch upon the US democracy bastion, then what is the benchmark for it? Is it democracy towards the rights of American citizen, or maybe, Americans’ democracy towards the rights of citizens of other countries, like Iraq and Afghanistan?” said Zatulin in his interview with Pravda.ru.
“I am concerned with the issue of human rights in Russia. I would like the human rights to be regarded with greater respect. It is not traditional for our history and Russian state, where the price of human life, and rights for this life, were not high enough. This was the case under Tsars, communists and in our times. It bothers me. As for equating us with Sri Lanka and Egypt, I think it is a sheer provocation that has nothing to do with human rights,” he stressed.