Search

 

Cablegate: Russia Cries Foul Over 2007 Human Rights Report

VZCZCXRO3982
OO RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0702/01 0731441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131441Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7117
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000702

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM PINR RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA CRIES FOUL OVER 2007 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT


1. (SBU) Summary: Although press coverage of the 2007 Human
Rights Report has been largely straightforward, the Russian
MFA and several members of the State Duma have accused the
U.S. of having double standards and a "Cold War" mentality.
The head of the Helsinki Moscow Group defended the report and
called upon the Russian government to correct the
shortcomings mentioned, rather than simply condemn it out of
hand. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Russian print and internet press have for the most
part reported factually on the contents of the 2007 Human
Rights Report with little editorial comment. Their reports
focused mainly on U.S. criticism of Russia's centralization
of power in the executive branch, restrictions on freedom of
expression, media independence, unsolved murders of
journalists, abuse by members of law enforcement
(particularly in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North
Caucasus), hazing in the military and government pressure on
NGOs. Several newspapers picked up on the absence of China
on this year's list of the worst offenders, and theorized
that it was because of sensitivities over the Olympics.
According to the independent daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NG),
as in previous years, the report "abounds in criticism of
Moscow called fair by Russian human rights activists and
rejected as unjustified by officials." Vremya Novostey
observed that the report "repeats its cliche accusations year
after year," and further chided that "still China, listed
among the worst violators in the two previous years, was
spared this time. However, the power of the Communist Party
of China has not weakened during the past year."

MFA Pulls Few Punches in its Criticism
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In a statement posted March 12 on its official
website, the MFA accused the U.S. of double standards and
called the report "not objective." It also claimed that many
paragraphs do not change from year-to-year, giving the
impression that the report is written to fit pre-determined
conclusions about the human rights situation here. The MFA
contested the criticism in the report of the decision by the
OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
(ODIHR) not to send an observation mission for the December
Duma elections, stating that "the politicized approach of
ODIHR" never received the backing of the OSCE member states.
The MFA went on to call the report yet another demonstration
of the "double standards" in U.S. human rights policy -- one
for external use and another for domestic consumption. It
chastised the U.S. for distorted criticism of the human
rights situation in other countries while it has "legalized
torture, applied capital punishment to minors, denied
responsibility for war crimes and massive human rights abuses
in Iraq and Afghanistan, and refused to join a series of
human rights treaties." The statement closed with the hope
that in its periodic review of the human rights performance
of all countries, the UN Human Rights Council will enable an
unprejudiced discussion of existing human rights problems,
including a report on the United States.

Duma Members Also React Defensively
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Vasiliy Likhachev, Deputy Chairman of the
Federation Council Committee for International Affairs, told
reporters that the report could not "free itself from
Russophobic trends." He added that the report bodes poorly
for relations between the U.S. and Russia, as it came during
the transfer of power from Putin to Medvedev, and therefore
signals how the U.S. will "assess future political, economic
and humanitarian processes in Russia." Likhachev also noted
that the U.S. had problems of its own, such as crime, the
penal system and camps at which suspected terrorists are
being held. Andrey Klimov, Deputy Chairman of the Duma
Committee on International Affairs, thought that U.S.
officials were comfortable giving such assessments since they
have "grown up during the Cold War and know nothing else."

Local Human Rights Leader Defended the Report
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Lyudmila
Alekseyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, called the
report "professional" and asserted that its author knows the
human rights situation in Russia. She called upon the GOR to
react to such reports by paying attention to the shortcomings
noted in it and improving the situation. According to
Alekseyeva, Russia's misplaced vision of its glory keep it
from being able to do this. She added, "honor is not lashing
out when shortcomings are noted, but rather correcting the
problem."


MOSCOW 00000702 002 OF 002


Comment:
-------

6. (SBU) The largely factual discussion in the print media
of this year's report and measured response by Alekseyeva are
in sharp contrast to the (traditional) chest-thumping by the
MFA and those Duma members who have ventured to make
statements about it. There is much in the report that will
have resonance with ordinary Russians -- mothers whose sons
have been hazed in the military and families in the North
Caucasus whose members have suffered mistreatment by law
enforcement.
BURNS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: