U.S. practice double standards in human rights sphere: Russian officials

The U.S. State Department's Annual Human Rights Report criticises Russia for weak democratic institutions and trying to suppress free media and NGOs. Russia has hit back, saying the U.S. uses human rights as a political tool.

The Human Rights Report published last week also outlined the support the U.S. was offering to NGOs (Non-governmental Organisations) in Russia.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Yakovenko has said that human rights criticism by the U.S. cannot be used as a pretext for meddling in internal affairs of sovereign states.

“The U.S. State Department’s annual report on global human rights fails to reflect actual conditions. Its assessment of the situation in Russia is aimed at furthering political interests of the U.S. The U.S. have practiced double standards in the sphere of human rights, depending on whether one state or another acts in accordance with America’s political interests. The U.S. uses different tones in describing the human rights situation in each country. If it is to Washington’s advantage, softer tones are used in judging the human rights situation,” noted Aleksandr Yakovenko.

Still, he said that this should not prevent the countries from working together to improve human rights.

“I do not view today’s press conference as an assessment of the relations between Russia and the U.S. On the contrary, we are convinced that politicising the human rights issue will not lead to the solution of the existing problems. The aim of the press conference is to show that our world today faces a lot of problems and we need to solve these crisis situations together,” he added. 

More reaction has come in from the Russian authorities to the report.  Both chambers of the Parliament have voiced their criticism, saying the U.S. is “trying to exert pressure on the country both from within and from outside under the guise of human rights protection”. The report, criticising Russia for its weak democratic institutions and attempts to suppress free media, has also been called “amateur” by the Russian Public Chamber.

Meanwhile members of a Russian pro-Kremlin youth movement “Nashi” have staged a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The protestors have said the fact the U.S. State Department funded some NGO's and civil society groups in Russia, is a “crude violation of international law and an attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.” They called for the U.S. State Department to stop “sponsoring anti-state activities in Russia”.