International Comment: Government

24 May 2012 
US Department of State 
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor 
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 
The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power highly concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political system dominated by the ruling United Russia party, and a bicameral legislature (Federal Assembly). The Federal Assembly consists of a lower house (State Duma) and an upper house (Federation Council). Security forces generally reported to civilian authorities; however, in some areas of the Northern Caucasus, there were serious problems with civilian control of security forces. 
The most significant human rights problems during the year involved: 
1. Violations of Democratic Processes [Read more
2. Administration of Justice and Rule of Law [
3. Freedom of Expression [Read more
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. [Read more]

15 March 2012
Remarks at Bipartisan Policy Center
US Department of State
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
BPC Panel discussion, "Putin's Return: The Political and Commercial Implications for America"
Washington, DC
Moderator: [in progress] lively debate over whether some new form of human rights sanction needs to immediately be put into effect were Congress to lift Jackson-Vanik. So first of all, can you give us a sense of where the administration is at in terms of the big picture positioning? Is there still a reset possible with President Putin returning to official power in the Kremlin? And in that context, where does this debate in Washington fit in?
Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thanks, Susan. I would be happy to do that. Indeed, I appreciate the invitation to put it in that broader context. This is an important thing we’re trying to do with Russia, but there are a lot of important things we’re trying to do with Russia and they are related.
Let me start, though, by saying how much I admire the report by the task force. As we head into this debate in Congress there is no doubt going to be a lot of polemics and politics and what is called for is a serious, thoughtful assessment with even some facts in it. I think that’s what you all have produced and it’s going to be very valuable and I would encourage members of Congress, the media and others to rely on it. I really think it’s an important contribution on this important issue. [Read more]

5 March 2012 
Presidential Elections in Russia 
US Department of State 
Press Statement 
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

The United States congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the Presidential elections, and looks forward to working with the President-elect after the results are certified and he is sworn in. The United States endorses the preliminary report of the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and welcomes the many other assessments of the Russian presidential election by Russian election monitors. We note the statement by the head of delegation for PACE that the election had a clear winner with an absolute majority. We also note, however, the OSCE’s concerns about the conditions under which the campaign was conducted, the partisan use of government resources, and procedural irregularities on election day, among other issues. 

We urge the Russian Government to conduct an independent, credible investigation of all reported electoral violations. [Read more

14 December 2011
The State of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Russia: U.S. Policy Options
Philip H. Gordon
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Statement before the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
As Prepared for Delivery
Chairman Shaheen, Ranking Member Barrasso and Members of the Committee,
Thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the state of human rights and the rule of law in Russia. These issues have always been central to the Administration’s strategy toward Russia. As President Obama said in July 2009, “Americans and Russians have a common interest in the development of rule of law, the strengthening of democracy, and the protection of human rights.” There are real challenges in these areas, as you well know. And there are not always easy solutions. But we believe that our policy is guided by clear principles that enable us to have an effective working relationship with Russia’s government and civil society on a wide range of important foreign and domestic policy concerns. I welcome the opportunity to discuss these principles and challenges with the committee. [Read more]