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Russian report criticizes US on human rights, US responds 'bring it on'

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Dolgov says Russia isn't judging the US, or denying that it's an established democratic state, just that Americans should be aware that they're living in a glass house.

"Nobody is rejecting the historic accomplishments of the US, but at the same time they should be aware that serious problems continue to exist, and some of them are growing," he says.

His preference would be for the US and Russia to discuss differences behind closed doors, in intergovernmental committees that already exist but have fallen into disuse, such as the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission.

As for human rights violations in Russia, that's not his department, he says. The Kremlin has a human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, who deals with domestic matters and produces annual reports of his own.

The idea of trying to induce Americans to look at their own country through the same kind of critical paradigm that their government and media subjects Russia to, was a standard – if spectacularly unsuccessful – method of the former Soviet propaganda machine. But under Vladimir Putin it's back in vogue, with Russians feeling this time that American perceptions of their country are truly unfair. The Kremlin spends vast amounts of money on Russia Today, or RT, an English-language satellite news network with studios in Washington, D.C., and an assertively alternative approach to news coverage of the US and the world.

The official US response to Dolgov's report, expressed by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland Tuesday, was: Bring it on.

"[The US] is an open book, and we have plenty of nongovernmental organizations of our own that make assessments about our human rights and that represent to the government what they think needs to be done," Ms. Nuland said. "So from that perspective, whether it’s a US NGO watchdog or whether it’s an international watchdog, bring it on."

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