Wednesday, April 11, 2007

U.S. report on democracy, human rights in Russia politicized-FM

MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - A U.S. State Department report on democratic processes and human rights protection in the world contains an arbitrary and politicized provision regarding Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
The report "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006", published last Thursday by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, blasted democratic processes in Russia and the current situation with non-governmental organizations and human rights protection in Russia.

"The report is obviously politicized in its nature and fails to reflect the real state of affairs," the ministry said in a statement adding that the U.S. State Department published similar reports before the 'color revolutions' in former Soviet republics. The U.S. report said in particular, "Continuing centralization of power in the executive branch, a compliant State Duma, political pressure on the judiciary, corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law, continuing media restrictions and self-censorship, and government pressure on opposition political parties eroded the public accountability of government leaders."

The Russian government has faced criticism from Western leaders for restrictions imposed on rights groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country, and the issue is often cited as an example of Russia's alleged backsliding on democracy. "A whole range of simple logical tricks was used in the document regarding Russia... in order to convince American taxpayers and public opinion that Russia was in urgent need of democratization," the Russian ministry said.

The report also said in particular that if it was not for the United States and its embassy in Russia, which supported various NGOs and democratic initiatives, the political and social situation would have deteriorated much further in the country. "With U.S. support, NGOs continued to monitor the work of deputies in regional legislatures, encouraging interaction between constituents and their elected officials and promoting good governance. Sixteen U.S.-supported coalitions of business associations united more than 170 associations nationwide; these groups won at least 30 legislative changes in various regions of the country. The ambassador met with the head of the Central Election Commission and with political party leaders, including opposition leaders, throughout the year to emphasize the need for transparent and fair elections," the report said.

In light of this statement from the report, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the International Affairs Committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said Monday that the report was an unwarranted interference in Russia's internal affairs adding that "It contains a direct indication that the United States intends to finance projects within the framework of the forthcoming State Duma and presidential election campaigns." Commenting on the report further, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia is open to detailed and constructive dialogue with all countries, including the United States. But Russia believes it unacceptable to use monitoring of democratic ideas and human rights as a cover for interference in other countries' internal affairs, including through U.S. diplomatic representations abroad, the ministry added.

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