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Russia criticises Georgia and US human rights records in special report

By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, December 30
The Kremlin has decided to change its strategy regarding the constant reproaches of the west about human rights violations in Russia and responded accordingly. The Russian Foreign Ministry has released its first human rights report on orders from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, mainly addressing the US, EU and Georgia among other pro western states.

As the report published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website reads, Moscow has found the state of human rights in Georgia critical, the document starts with a description of the 26 May developments. The document reads about how police dispersed demonstrators on the night of 26 May, as a result of which one person was killed, while dozens, including women and journalists, were brutally beaten.

“This was all extra proof of the critical state of human rights in Georgia. Tbilisi’s actions brutally violated the rights of its citizens to peaceful demonstrations and expression of opinion,” the document says.

The document also cites a report of various international human rights organization reports such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which criticized Tbilisi for the eviction of IDPs, imprudently noting that 6% of the Georgian population (247 thousand people) who became IDPs in the 90s and 2008 have not been able to return to their homes for 20 years or receive permanent accommodation since.

The significant part of the record attacking the US reads about examples of wrongful death row convictions to the terrorism prison camp at Guantanamo, problems in regards to freedom of speech also touching upon some mistakes made by the U.S. justice system. “The situation in terms of human rights is a far cry from the ideals that Washington proclaims,” reads the report.

Washington however greeted Russia’s anger with calm. “Washington considers reports from other countries on the human rights situation in the United States as useful and is always open to them,” stated the spokesperson of the US Department of State commenting on the report from Russia.

“These kinds of human rights reports can be a useful mechanism. But we certainly do not regard it as interference in our internal affairs when foreign governments, individuals, or organizations comment on or criticize U.S. human rights practices,” Mark Toner, the acting spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, told a daily press briefing.

The diplomat did not make any specific comments on provisions pointed out by Russia in its report, although he was asked in particular about the Guantanamo prison. He said the document is being assessed and that it would take some time.

“I think we can say that we will or we may examine the report to see if there’s any importance to it. We don’t put any restrictions on access to our human rights records, and, indeed, we have an extremely unfettered press and media that hold us to that,” Toner added.

Moscow has previously reacted angrily to the accusations of human rights breaches that the U.S. State Department has levelled at Russia in its annual reports. The State Department has expressed concern about the violent attacks on rights activists and journalists in Russia, most of which go unpunished. It also criticized abuses in Russia’s Caucasus, including extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture.

The 90-page Russian report slams EU nations, Canada and Georgia, but reserves its longest section of 20 pages for what it says are violations by the United States. The report does not cover Asia, Africa or the Middle East, other than a five-page section criticizing the NATO operation in Libya.