Russia complains about UN criticism of ‘demagogues’
Russia's ambassador on Monday said he had complained to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about UN criticism of populist politicians in Europe, but denied that he had taken issue with remarks directed at Donald Trump.
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, had overstepped his authority when he made the remarks.
“He should stick to human rights,” Churkin told reporters.
“He should not be criticizing foreign heads of state and government for their policies. This is not his business.”
Zeid last month launched a scathing attack on populist politicians like Trump and Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, calling for action to halt such “demagogues and political fantasists.”
Zeid said Wilders had much in common with US Republican presidential hopeful Trump, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, France’s leader of the National Front Marine Le Pen, and leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage.
Churkin said he complained about Zeid during a private meeting with Ban and that his counterpart in Geneva did the same with the rights chief directly, but that Trump was not mentioned in those conversations.
“I was referring to other politicians,” Churkin said.
“If it were Trump, then the United States should have complained, because it would have meant that he is interfering in their domestic presidential campaign,” he added.
“But I am not working for the United States. I am working for the Russian federation so why should I complain if someone is trying to interfere.”
Reports that the Russian envoy defended Trump to the United Nations fueled speculation that the Kremlin is working to help the Republican candidate’s campaign.
Trump’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is reviled by many over his stance on Ukraine and Syria, has raised eyebrows and drawn sharp criticism, particularly from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Putin has reciprocated by expressing his “sympathy” to “those who publicly state that it is necessary to build a relationship with Russia, on basis of equality,” in a clear reference to Trump.