Minsk Urges ‘More Creative’ Response to Rights Criticism

Belarus and Russia should be more “creative” in standing up to Western attacks on their human rights record, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on Tuesday.

“We are seriously concerned about head-on attacks by the West on human rights issues,” he said at a joint meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministry boards.

Western countries use the rights issue solely “to advance their own interests,” he said.

“The time has come to respond in a more creative way to attacks from those who criticize our countries especially harshly over the human rights situation,” the minister said.

He did not elaborate.

Moscow has been irked by the US State Department’s annual reports on international human rights in which Russia is routinely censured.

Earlier this month the Russian Foreign Ministry responded by taking the US to task for its record on capital punishment, secret CIA detention facilities abroad, extrajudicial killings of suspected terrorists, and government surveillance of foreigners’ and Americans’ electronic communications.

The report also condemns the United States for its failure to close the Guantanamo detention facility, for the size of the country’s prison population, which totals 2.2 million, for alleged police brutality, abuse of immigrant workers, and for faults in its electoral system.

The US responded by saying it welcomes hearing from different sources about rights abuses. “[W]hether it’s a US NGO watchdog or whether it’s an international watchdog, bring it on,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week.

Meanwhile, the US continues to criticize Russia on rights issues. Most recently it expressed concern to the Russian government over claims by a Russian opposition activist that he was kidnapped while seeking advice on political asylum in Ukraine and hauled back to Russia.

Leonid Razvozzhayev, who was wanted in Russia on charges of plotting mass disorder, claims that after consulting with a UN office in Kiev about political asylum, he was kidnapped on the streets of Kiev by masked men and spirited across the border into Russia in a van.


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