Russia attacks EU human rights record after criticism

Greek riot police detain a protester in Thessaloniki, 6 December Use of force by police was one of the issues the Russian report raised

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The Russian government has accused EU institutions of failing to stem human rights abuses, in an apparent response to criticism from Brussels.

A 66-page report by the foreign ministry surveys all 27 member states, citing EU publications and non-governmental organisations.

A ministry spokesman said human rights and democratic freedoms were "continuing to deteriorate".

EU leaders have criticised the Kremlin for years over its human rights record.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Brussels before the end of the year for a summit with EU leaders - possibly on 21 December, according to the EU news website EurActiv.

Since his re-election in March, EU leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about Russia's prosecution of opposition activists and adoption of laws which appear to restrict civil liberties.

Russia trails EU countries in international surveys of civil liberties, such as the Press Freedom Index, which this year placed it at 142. By contrast, EU states took four out of the top five rankings.

'Not adequate'

The Russian foreign ministry issued its first report on human rights in other countries last year, with the focus on the US.

Start Quote

Pot calling kettle black”

End Quote Kenneth Roth Human Rights Watch

In its follow-up this week, it repeated long-held concerns about the treatment of the ethnic Russian minorities in the ex-Soviet Baltic states.

Other issues it addressed ranged from far-right extremism to police brutality, from children's rights to alleged CIA secret prisons.

Presenting the report in Brussels, the foreign ministry's representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said: "At the level of institutions, the European Union is not taking adequate steps.

"We think that time has come for our European partners to change the situation to ensure the observance of international obligations by all the EU members."

Asked by EurActiv if the report was part of a strategic move to reverse criticism ahead of Mr Putin's visit, Mr Dolgov argued instead that Russia's human rights record had improved.

"We believe that nobody should have the monopoly to assess the human rights situation in other countries," the Russian official said.

Commenting on the Russian report on Twitter, Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, wrote: "Pot calling kettle black, returning-to-Soviet-days."

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