Russian lawmakers accuse new West-leaning Ukraine government of rights abuses

Russian lawmakers on Friday accused the new West-leaning government in neighboring Ukraine of human rights abuses, including allegedly persecuting the pro-Russian opposition.

In a 351-0 vote, the lower parliament house adopted a resolution calling for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which promotes democracy in the region, to investigate its claim that Ukraine failed to respect the organization's principles.

"All this does not correspond to the new Ukrainian authorities' stated aim of building a democratic political system," the State Duma resolution said.

Russian relations with Ukraine have deteriorated since pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko came to power as president after defeating his Kremlin-backed opponent in a bitter election battle late last year.

The Russian legislators allege that Yushchenko's government is engaging in mass layoffs of state employees from the former government and detaining politicians who disagree with it. They also criticized what they said was a "selective" reprivatization of major Ukrainian concerns, including ones owned by Russian investors.

The new Ukrainian government said it would re-examine the sale of 29 companies it said were illegally privatized. It claims that many key industries were sold off to cronies of former President Leonid Kuchma at rock-bottom prices.

In the past two months, authorities detained two regional leaders linked to the new government's political opponents. They insist they are simply targeting corruption.


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