Russian responses to the "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy" report
The “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy” report released by the US State Department on April 6 has drawn a rather sharp response in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry described it as “politicized”; political analysts have called it an attempt to interfere in another country’s internal affairs.
The “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy” report released by the US State Department on April 6 has drawn a rather sharp response in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry described it as “politicized”; political analysts have called it an attempt to interfere in another country’s internal affairs. Even rights activists, while emphasizing that some passages in the report are fair, note that the United States has lost its moral leadership in the field of human rights.
The report’s Russia section doesn’t say all that much about defending human rights (it does mention xenophobia and incidents of anti-Semitism). But it says a lot more about the “erosion” of democracy in general, and the consequent need for efforts to ensure that the upcoming elections, both parliamentary and presidential, are “free and fair.” For this purpose, the United States intends to organize “political party training, training for mass media representatives on covering political issues, and voter education initiatives.”
“Essentially, the United States is moving from election-monitoring and supporting general democratic principles to supporting specific political ideas,” says political analyst Sergei Markov. “The United States constantly ‘confuses’ democracy with its own geopolitical interests – thus undermining confidence in this report.”
Another significant complaint against the report is that the United States studies the observance of human rights in all countries except the United States itself.
“Practical experience shows that they’re not interested in elections as an institution of fighters for liberal democracy,” says journalist Mikhail Leontiev. “They define a democratic election as an election in which the democrats win. And the democrats are the people who are certified as democrats by Washington. It’s a very simple construct – and the funniest part is that I’m not even exaggerating at all here. Ukraine provides a vivid example!”
Oddly enough, this report, which is officially supposed to be about the human rights situation in 2006, suddenly provides an assessment of Russia’s presidential election in 2004: it “did not adequately reflect principles necessary for a healthy democratic election.”
“This is part of preparations for declaring the presidential election of 2008 to be unfair and illegitimate,” says Markov. “The chief objective of the United States is to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Russia’s presidential and parliamentary elections, and it makes no secret of that.”