Russia hits back at 'human rights abuse' claims

Human rights campaigners Amnesty International have condemned abuses in Russia including 'extra-judicial killings and kidnappings'. But a legal expert in the former Soviet Union hit back by saying his country did not need what he called unfounded accusations from the outside.

Anatoly Kucherena, a member of the Russian Public Chamber, said:  "All those phenomena exist not only in Russia but in many other countries of the world. We are ready to co-operate with European and US experts to withstand those problems."

In an extensive 16-page report Amnesty lists practically all possible fields of human rights that are violated in Russia, including:

  • the growth of xenophobia in Russia;
  • suppression of meetings and demonstrations;
  • the increasing number of kidnappings and extra-judicial killings in the republics of the Northern Caucasus;
  • the need to cancel death penalty;
  • violation of human rights in penitentiary institutions;
  • unjust legal proceedings in Russia;
  • suppression of freedom of speech in Russia's mass media.

Amnesty pointed out that the situation with human rights in Russia improved in certain aspects, although it mostly remained the same. In this connection human rights activists urged Dmitry Medvedev to pass from words to deeds. They said that they would like to see if the president could keep the promises he gave during his inauguration.

The above-mentioned report says that the number of hostility and racism motivated crimes has increased in Russia during the recent several years. Amnesty International also called to legally cancel death penalty in Russia.

It is worthy of note that Amnesty does not compare situations in different countries, nor does it make any ratings. The organisation believes that the situation with human rights in each country is unique.

According to Amnesty, people are subjected to tortures in at least 81 countries of the world. Unjust court proceedings are held in at least 54 countries, whereas state authorities infringe upon freedom of speech in 77 countries.

Amnesty International offers China to observe human rights and guarantee freedom of press on the threshold of Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In addition, the organisation recommends the USA to close the military base in Guantanamo along with all secret prisons.

The lawyer said that the Russian civil society is ready to adopt other countries' positive experience in solving such problems.  "Let us think about it together. If there is positive experience on those matters, we are ready to adopt it and discuss the issues, but without unfounded accusations," the official said.

 "There is no need to urge us to act more effectively. We know what we need. I can assure you that the Russian authorities have been paying a lot of attention to ethnic and nationalist conflicts, for example," Anatoly Kucherena said.

In addition, Kucherena said that all such reports show a hidden ideological motive. The official is certain that the report was another PR stunt of the organization.

 "Amnesty International needs to show its work and advertise itself on specific issues. We do not say that we do not have any problems. We have problem, but they are being solved," the official said.

Source: Pravda newspaper, Russia, and news agencies.