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Monday, October 30, 2006

Russian Racism: Does the Right Hand Know What the Left Hand is doing in Britain?

The International Herald Tribune reports that the British Foriegn Office has issued a report stingingly attacking Russia's human rights record, and Russia has responded with typical defensiveness and lack of reform. Now if only the Foreign Office would speak to the Home Office and convince them to stop denying reqests for asylum from the victims of racial injustice in Russia because, according to the Home Office, there isn't any.

Russia on Friday angrily dismissed British criticism of the nation's human rights record, saying it reflected bias and "double standards." Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement that the criticism of Russia contained in the British Foreign Office's annual human rights report was "based on distorted perceptions of the real state of affairs and fraught with gross mistakes and references to unverified sources." In its report, the Foreign Office voiced concern about the human rights situation in Russia, which holds the rotating chairmanship in the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations this year and hosted its summit in St.Petersburg in July. "Nationalism, public mistrust of the criminal justice system and state influence and control of the media are all increasingly worrying issues in Russia," the Foreign Office said. It also reaffirmed concerns about continuing human rights abuses in Chechnya and other provinces in Russia's restive North Caucasus region.

"The North Caucasus remains the region where human rights abuses give rise to the most serious concern," it said."Notwithstanding a reduction in the number of reported human rights abuses, the situation in the region remains one of Europe's most serious human rights issues." Kamynin angrily dismissed the criticism and sought to turn the tables on British authorities, accusing London of the failure to extradite people who were facing terror charges in Russia — an apparent reference to Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev. Moscow was angered by the failure to obtain the extradition of Zakayev who is wanted in Russia on murder and kidnapping charges. Zakayev, who had served as aide to the late Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, was given refuge in Britain in 2003. "One has the impression that London is still unaware of the counterproductive and fruitless character of attempts to use double standards in the human rights sphere and to politicize the human rights theme," Kamynin said in the statement. Russia has bristled at Western criticism of a rollback on democratic freedom under President Vladimir Putin, again highlighted by the Oct.7 contract-style killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who exposed killings, torture and other abuses against civilians in Chechnya.

Read the full Foreign Office report here. Read the Russia report starting on page 86 of this document.

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