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U.S. Report On Rights In Russia Fair - Russian Rights Activists

MOSCOW. April 9 (Interfax) - The head of Russia's independent human rights group said she agrees with the conclusions in the State Department's report assessing the situation with human rights and media freedom in Russia.

"I share the concern voiced by the authors of the report. And it seems to me that analysts of the Department of States drew quite justified conclusions regarding the situation with human rights in Russia. I mean the electoral law, freedom of speech and the situation in Chechnya," Tatiana Lokshina, head of the Demos human rights center and an expert of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, told Interfax on Monday.

"But, given the war in Iraq, Guantanamo and various anti-terrorist measures being taken at the national level, the U.S. has lost most of its moral authority in the sphere of human rights and international relations," she said.

"Taking account of the policy Washington has been pursuing in recent years, especially the war in Iraq, the U.S. has found itself in a rather weak position to be able to effectively influence other countries. It has happened because the U.S. has ceased to serve as an actual example in the sphere of human rights, which is regrettable," Lokshina said.

"When the Department of State releases such a report on Russia, it is quite difficult for Americans to influence the situation with human rights in Russia, no matter how convincing the arguments of its authors sound. The Russian authorities respond to complaints that the situation with human rights in Russia is not so good by saying: look at yourselves first," the Demos head said.

The report voices concern over the situation with human rights and democracy in Russia. According to the document, the weak political system in the Russian Federation does not adequately reflect the principles needed to hold sound democratic elections, to provide all candidates with equal access to the media and to ensure the secrecy of the ballot. The report also expresses concern over violations of human rights in the North Caucasus.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed the report as politicized.

"Regrettably, we have to say once again that the document's section dealing with the situation with human rights in Russia is politicized beyond objectivity and confrontational in many ways," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.