The U.S. Department of State criticized Russia for continuing violation of human rights and democratic freedoms in an annual report published on Thursday.
Among the major fields of concern in Russia, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 identifies violations of democratic processes, a weak judicial system and suppression of freedom of expression.
“Domestic and international observers described the [December 2011 parliamentary] elections as marked by government interference, manipulation, electoral irregularities, and restrictions on the ability of opposition parties to organize and register candidates for public office. There was also poor access the media for the opposition and limited opportunity to conduct political campaigns,” the report says.
“Individuals who threatened powerful state or business interests were subjected to political prosecution, as well as to harsh conditions of detention.”
“The conditions of prisons constituted a major violation of the human rights of many prisoners, who were subjected to poor medical care, lack of basic human needs, and abuse by prison officials,” the report says, adding the government did not take adequate steps to prosecute or punish most officials who committed abuses.
“Some journalists and activists who publicly criticized or challenged the government or well-connected business interests were subject to physical attack, harassment, increased scrutiny from government regulatory agencies, politically motivated prosecutions, and other forms of pressure. Attacks on and killings of journalists and activists occurred, and a number of high-profile cases from previous years remained unsolved.”
The accusations in the report are supported by concrete cases, including jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Sergey Magnitskiy, a lawyer who died of medical neglect and abuse while in pretrial detention in 2009.
“Other problems observed during the year included physical abuse of conscripts by military officers; restrictions on the right to free assembly; widespread corruption at all levels of government and law enforcement; violence against women and children; trafficking in persons; xenophobic attacks and hate crimes; societal discrimination, harassment, and attacks on religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants; societal and official intimidation of civil society and labor activists; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; limitations on the rights of workers,” the report says.
The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed previous human rights reports by the West as biased and politically motivated.