MOSCOW, June 20 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is outraged by the possibility of US sanctions over its human trafficking record and warns of strong countermeasures, a high-ranking Russian official said Thursday.
In a move that opens the door to sanctions, the US Department of State named Russia and China among the world's worst countries in terms of forced labor and sex trafficking in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The report claims that the Russian government “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” and that an estimated “1 million people in Russia are exposed to exploitative labor conditions.”
It is US policy to refrain from providing nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related aid to any government that does not comply with the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking. That policy may affect Russia as of October 1, if the US president does not decide otherwise.
“Naturally, any unfriendly moves will be met with an effective response on our part,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, said Thursday in a statement.
US sanctions “would contradict the goals of long-term positive development of Russian-American relations and constructive agreements reached by the presidents of Russia and the United States during their recent meeting” at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, the official added.
He acknowledged that Moscow had been “repeatedly warned about an upcoming downgrade in its ratings,” to avoid which it had to meet a number of “recommendations.” But the official emphasized that it was unacceptable for Russia to adjust its legislation and law enforcement practice to “US paradigms.”
Moscow rejects the US approach whereby countries are divided into “rating groups” depending on the “political sympathies or antipathies of the US Department of State,” he added.
This year’s human trafficking report downgrades Russia and China to the lowest level, Tier 3.
Russia had been on the Tier 2 Watch List for the last nine consecutive years. In the two previous reports, Russia was granted consecutive waivers from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3, the lowest level, because of a written plan to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
A maximum of two consecutive waivers is allowed, so this option is no longer available to Russia.