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#19 - JRL 7129
Russia "dismayed" with US human rights criticism

Moscow, 1 April: Russia's Press Ministry is dismayed with the report on human rights the US State Department has submitted to the Congress, which criticizes the situation in Russia.

Interfax quotes the ministry's press service saying "the report looks at Russia negatively".

"The ministry takes with sarcasm attempts by the American Department of State to describe Russia as a country without a free press," noted the press service.

The ministry regrets "political short-sightedness on the part of the Department of State" when lashing out at the Russian government for its actions, which, according to American diplomats, "weaken the electronic media's autonomy".

"Allegations by American officials that civil rights and freedoms are trampled underfoot assume a special zest now that the USA continues its military operation in Iraq," says the report.

"With respect to US officials' behaviour in covering the military conflict, all of us have witnessed biased media coverage, violation of reporters' rights, and the bringing into confusion [misleading] both American citizens and the rest of the world," stresses the report.

The ministry "reaffirms the inviolability of the principles of freedom of speech and the independence of media in Russia, hoping that US statements will be more balanced and unbiased in the future".

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1446 gmt 1 Apr 03

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