Russia accuses UK of 'hypocrisy' over human rights report

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova - pictured during an interview with the BBC in November 2015
Image caption Maria Zakharova said Britain's reputation on human rights was "badly tarnished"

Britain has been accused of "colossal hypocrisy" after a government report criticised Russia over human rights.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the report was not "objective" and she accused Britain of harbouring "terrorists".

The Foreign Office (FCO) report noted a "crackdown on civil society" and said Russia's actions in Ukraine had led to "severe deterioration" in human rights.

After Russia's comments, the FCO said human rights needed to be protected.

The report, published last week, said rule of law in Russia "remained inconsistent and arbitrarily applied" and raised concerns about increasing numbers of organisations officially labelled "foreign agents" or "undesirable".

It said the human rights situation in Russia got worse in 2015 and was "unlikely" to improve this year.

'Killings and torture'

State-controlled media "overwhelmingly emphasised a pro-government narrative" and a number of independent journalists reported that they had experienced harassment, it said.

"Although space for independent media continued to exist, most notably online, a small number of individuals faced criminal prosecution for posting critical comments," the report added.

It noted a "severe deterioration" in human rights in eastern Ukraine and Crimea due to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

It said the UN had reported "killings, torture and other ill-treatment, illegal detention, and forced labour during 2015" in areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

'Badly tarnished'

Ms Zakharova accused the Foreign Office of calling for "interference" in Russia's internal affairs.

She also said Britain was harbouring "terrorists and those funding their activities" and said the country had failed to prosecute soldiers who committed crimes during the invasion of Iraq.

"This report is, of course, an example of colossal hypocrisy," she said.

She added: "To claim the role of a teacher, you have to have, if not an impeccable, then at least a more or less decent reputation. And London's reputation, to be honest and fair, is badly tarnished."

Responding to the criticism, the FCO said promoting human rights was a "core" part of its work.

A spokeswoman said there was "serious concern about the deteriorating human rights environment" in Russia.

"As long as these concerns exist, we will continue to call on Russia to fulfil their international commitments to promote and protect human rights," she added.

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