The Kremlin has rubbished an analysis from the US State Department that says Russia is plagued by human rights breaches, police surveillance and poor jail conditions, insisting that Washington just rehashes the claims each year.
On Tuesday, American diplomats published the report that alleges Russia “has a highly centralized, authoritarian political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin.” Among the charges leveled at Moscow were the claims that it allows torture, “harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons” and the “severe suppression of freedom of expression and media.”
Chronicling a series of supposed breaches of fundamental rights, the analysts gave the example of a Siberian shaman who was “forcibly hospitalized” after a police raid following an announcement that he and his followers would walk across the continent from the Siberian city of Yakutsk to Moscow to ‘expel’ Putin from office. The example was linked to claims that Russia has a track record of “sending defendants for psychiatric treatment as punishment.”
The report also includes the allegations that Russia operates a repressive regime in Crimea following the peninsula’s reabsorption into Russia in 2014, and abuses Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are registered as an extremist group in the country.
In comments to journalists on Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that “the document, with constant regularity, reproduces very similar conclusions each and every year, regardless of the overall state of our bilateral relations.”
According to the Kremlin press secretary, “the severity of their pronouncements increases and decreases over time.”
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been strained in recent weeks following remarks made by US President Joe Biden, who was asked as part of an interview whether he thought his Russian counterpart was “a killer,” and replied, “Mmm hmm, I do.”
Putin however, was more muted in his response to the White House, arguing that judging other countries “is like looking in a mirror.”
“When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin said. He added that Moscow would stand up for its own interests on the international stage, and “the US will have to reckon with this, despite their attempts to stop our development via sanctions and insults.”
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