Russia indignant at US human trafficking downgrade
Russia expressed "indignation" on Thursday over the US State Department's decision to downgrade the country to the bottom of a US table of nations combating human trafficking, a move which could spark sanctions.
"As far as the application of unilateral sanctions against Russia is concerned... the very idea of raising this issue causes indignation," Russian foreign ministry's human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, instead of a deep and objective review of why human trafficking is growing, including on the territory of the United States, the report's authors are once again using unacceptable methodology under which governments are ranked based on the political sympathies or antipathies of the US State Department," said Dolgov.
The US State Department on Wednesday downgraded Russia along with China and Uzbekistan in its annual report on human trafficking after the three nations languished for years on a US watch list.
The move could trigger cuts in non-humanitarian and non-trade US aid.
Dolgov noted that the decision could jeopardise Moscow's future relations with Washington.
"This shift would contradict the goals of the further positive development of Russian-US relations and constructive agreements reached by the Russian and US presidents during their recent meeting in Loch Erne," Dolgov said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland earlier this week.
The US report said that a million people in Russia "are exposed to 'exploitative' labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of documents, nonpayment for services, physical abuse, or extremely poor living conditions."
Obama is expected to determine whether to enact any sanctions against the three nations in September.
© 2013 AFP