Russia raps U.S. state dept human rights report

MOSCOW Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:23pm EDT

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gestures during his meeting with representatives of noncommercial organisations at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Vladimir Rodionov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Handout

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gestures during his meeting with representatives of noncommercial organisations at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow April 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Vladimir Rodionov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Handout

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that last week's U.S. State Department report, criticizing Moscow's human rights record, reflected double standards and was politicized.

"As before, the document has unfortunately become obvious evidence of the use of "double standards" and the politicization of human rights issues by the United States," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website www.mid.ru.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who was steered into the Kremlin by his predecessor Vladimir Putin in 2008, has promised to build civil society and improve Russia's traditionally poor human rights record, but few tangible results have been seen so far.

Washington scolded Russia for "governmental and societal human rights problems and abuses during the year" in its annual report on human rights globally published last week, echoing Washington's previous remarks and sparking a rebuke from Moscow in return.

"Americans prefer not to recall their own record (of violations)," the statement said, adding that Washington has recently resorted to disproportionate use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing civilian casualties.

"Odious special prisons in Guantanamo and Bagram are still functioning, despite promises to shut them down," the statement said. "The United States remains the largest player in the market of human trafficking... and the world's leader in child porn consumption."

The U.S. report recalled last year's Moscow court verdict that jailed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky must stay in jail until 2017, and the 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison, which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last month called a "fundamental obstacle" for investors.

Last year's severe beating of journalist and blogger Oleg Kashin was also mentioned in the report, amid over 19 unsolved murders of journalists in Russia since 2000, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

In February the U.N. human rights chief said that attempts to improve civil society by Medvedev, who styled himself a champion of democracy, had fallen short and urged Russia to take action to improve its record.

Medvedev and President Barack Obama have made a series of moves to "reset" the relationship in the past years after a period of tension, signing a crucial nuclear arms treaty earlier this year.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, editing by Tim Pearce)

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