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Russia criticizes US human rights report
Updated: 2006-03-11 17:08

Russia lashed out at a State Department report that criticized its human rights record, accusing the United States of a double standard.

The annual State Department report, released Wednesday, said the continued centralization of power under President Vladimir Putin eroded the accountability of Russian officials. It also criticized the government's rights record in the persistent conflict in and around Chechnya.

The U.S. report "abounds in clear juggling of facts and is a specimen of unconcealed double standards in relation to human rights in Russia and the world," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The ministry pointed to "human rights violations within the United States, about which authoritative international rights organizations speak ever more loudly, and ... U.S. involvement in serious deviations from commonly accepted norms of humanitarian law in Afghanistan and Iraq."

It said the report would hinder the development of Russian-American relations and lead Russians to believe American policy toward Russia is prejudiced.

The ministry rejected Western concerns about the Russian government's attitude toward human rights, saying that "active work is being conducted to perfect systems designed to provide for the rights and freedoms of citizens."

"There are no ideal countries from the point of view of adherence to human rights," the ministry said, echoing Russian responses to past State Department rights reports. "This ... also applies to the United States itself."

While Putin says Moscow welcomes constructive criticism, he and his government have repeatedly dismissed critics who accuse him of backtracking on democracy and human rights, calling them Cold War throwbacks intent on undermining Russia.

International concerns about human rights in Russia increased with the passage of a law restricting non-government organizations.

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