World News

Russia dismisses U.S. human rights report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia indignantly dismissed U.S. criticism of its human rights record on Friday, saying the United States was guilty of its own abuses from Afghanistan to “the streets of America.”

In a statement laced with sarcasm, the Foreign Ministry said the main purpose of what it called the U.S. State Department’s annual “opus” on human rights worldwide was to “solve the internal political problems of the American establishment.”

The Russia section of the State Department report, released on Thursday, cited problems and abuses ranging from corruption and unfair elections to the killings of journalists who reported critically on the government.

This year’s report came amid efforts to mend Russian-U.S. ties, which hit a post-Cold War low after Russia’s war with U.S.-supported Georgia in August 2008.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that despite those efforts, the United States was using human rights as a tool “to forward quite concrete, material foreign policy interests.”

“Everything in the report fits tradition and ritual -- the approaches, the theses, the conclusions, the sources,” it said. “In this area we noticed no big difference, despite the current (U.S.) administration’s declared ‘reset’ in our relations.”

As in past years, Russia said the United States had no right to lecture others. The Foreign Ministry said it was looking forward to a U.S. report on human rights in the United States and singled out U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

“It would be interesting to learn how (the State Department), which loves to moralize on the issue of human rights, would comment on torture and inhumane or humiliating treatment in the United States itself,” the statement said.

“And not just the widely known cases in Bagram and the special prison in Guantanamo -- which, contrary to the administration’s promises, just doesn’t close -- but also in the prisons and on the streets of America,” it said.

A report on rights in the United States should not omit “domestic violence leading to the murder of children, including those adopted in Russia,” as well as “racism and xenophobia toward migrants, and Islamophobia,” it said.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Robin Pomeroy