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Russia: Economic Crisis Puts Human Rights Progress At Risk

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - A new U.S. report says that while Russia has made progress in implementing human rights reforms, the building of democratic institutions in Russia still faces serious challenges, due in part to significant limitations on the state's resources.

In its annual report on human rights practices around the world, the U.S. State Department says that Russia continues to be a state in transition, but one experiencing additional severe pressures in the past year because of the country's widespread financial crisis.

The report, required by the U.S. Congress and released today, says the Russian government's record on human rights was uneven in 1998. It says there were credible reports, for example, that law enforcement and prison officials tortured and severely beat detainees and inmates. Prison conditions continued to be harsh and in some cases a threat to the lives of prisoners.

Military justice systems consistent with democratic practices, says the report, remain largely underdeveloped. Arbitrary arrest and detention remain problems in Russia, and the report says the government made little progress in the implementation of constitutional provisions for due process, fair and timely trial and human punishment.