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U.S. human rights report fails to reflect reality - ministry

MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry has described the latest U.S. human rights report as "politicized" and said it "fails to reflect actual conditions," Russia's deputy foreign minister said Thursday.

The report "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006," published last Thursday by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, blasted democratic processes in Russia and the current situation with non-governmental organizations and human rights protection in Russia.

At a news conference Thursday, Alexander Yakovenko said: "Unfortunately, the United States approves of the human rights situation in those countries that follow U.S. foreign policy, and criticizes those that fall out of step."

The Russian diplomat said the U.S. State Department had resorted to exaggeration and interpretation in its report on political processes in Russia.

The report actually gives U.S. ambassadors a green light to use human rights principles to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, which Russia views as "inadmissible," Yakovenko said.

The deputy foreign minister said that undermined basic international law, the principles of the UN Charter and the very system of international relations.

"There is concern in Russia about the human rights situation in [the countries of] the European Union," including in the Baltic states, Yakovenko said. "We expect [the EU] to take appropriate measures," he said.

At the same time, the Russian diplomat said the UN Human Rights Council would soon prepare reports on human rights in various countries, including the United States.

Yakovenko said such reports would comply with certain criteria, "equal for all countries."

The diplomat said Russia expected that the work would help yield unbiased human rights reports, "primarily in the United States."

Simultaneously, Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the upper house of Russia's parliament and leader of the Just Russia party, said Thursday he considered the U.S. report interference in Russia's internal affairs.

"We believe this should be labeled as interference in Russia's sovereignty," Mironov said, adding that the upper house was drafting a statement on the issue, which is due to be adopted Friday.

The latest reports said members of the lower house of Russia's parliament adopted a relevant statement at a foreign policy conference Thursday.

Commenting on the U.S. position, they said "it gives enough political and legal grounds to take measures against intrusion into Russia's sovereignty and national security."

Another parliamentarian, the head of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, also denounced the U.S. criticism.

"It contains a direct indication that the United States intends to finance projects within the framework of the forthcoming State Duma and presidential election campaigns," he said, urging the Russian government to toughen financial controls over non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia.

The Russian law on NGOs was also criticized in the U.S. human rights report.

The Russian government has faced criticism from Western leaders for restrictions imposed on rights groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country, and the issue is often cited as an example of Russia's alleged backsliding on democracy.

Commenting on the matter, Yakovenko said the Russian law on NGOs, whose draft had been approved by the UN Council, was more liberal than analogous legislation in Western Europe and the United States.