The US State Department on Tuesday said it welcomed a report by the Russian Foreign Ministry this week that harshly criticized America’s human rights record, adding that the United States is an “open book” and wants “to continue to improve our society.”
“This country is an open book, and we have plenty of non-governmental organizations of our own that make assessments about our human rights and that represent to the government what they think needs to be done,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a news briefing Tuesday. “So from that perspective, whether it’s a US NGO watchdog or whether it’s an international watchdog, bring it on.”
Nuland noted that she had not read the report, which was presented in the Russian State Duma on Monday and criticizes the United States for its record on capital punishment, secret CIA detention facilities abroad, alleged police brutality, and extrajudicial killings of suspected terrorists, among other alleged abuses.
The State Department spokeswoman was also asked at the briefing about two members of the Russian female punk collective Pussy Riot who have been sent to serve out prison sentences in penal colonies far from Moscow.
The two women Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of aggravated hooliganism earlier this year for a protest they carried out inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February.
They were sentenced to two years in prison along with a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was released on appeal earlier this month.
Nuland reiterated the US government’s position that the sentences were “disproportionate” to the charges on which they were convicted.
“We think that the way they’re being handled is inappropriate to the crime, and we call on Russian authorities to continue to review this case, particularly … in light of the severity of the sentence,” Nuland said.