Russia calls US torture report 'shocking'

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Thursday called a damning US report on the torture of detainees "shocking" and urged global pressure to force Washington to release still-classified details on rights violations.

Russia, which has always bristled at what it sees as Washington's incessant attempts to lecture Moscow on human rights, seized on the latest opportunity to say the Kremlin's former Cold War foe and its allies were no models of democracy.

A searing US Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday said the CIA's interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects was far more brutal than acknowledged and did not produce useful intelligence.

"Its contents are shocking," the Russian foreign ministry's human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov said, referring to the report.

"The published data is the latest proof of crude systemic violations of human rights by US authorities," he said in a statement.

"Such a state of affairs does not mesh with the United States' claims to the title of a 'paragon of democracy," Dolgov said.

"This is far from the reality."

He added that most of the report still remained confidential and called on international rights activists and organisations to press the United States to release all the information about violations committed as part of Washington's "war on terror."

Dolgov also called for a probe into the role of other governments that allowed the CIA to run secret prisons on their territory.

The call appeared to be a thinly veiled jab at countries such as Poland whose former president Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that his country hosted a secret US jail.

Ties between Moscow and Washington fell to unprecedented post-Soviet lows after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine's rule in March.

The United States slapped sanctions on Russia over the peninsula's annexation and Kremlin's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Since the outbreak of the confrontation between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Poland has been one of the Kremlin's most vocal critics.

Another Russian foreign ministry representative, Alexander Lukashevich, on Thursday also took issue with the fact that US officials had for a long time wanted to conceal the facts of torture.

"That means no one is perfect," he told a weekly briefing.

The US report said detainees were beaten, waterboarded - some of them dozens of times - and humiliated through the painful use of medically unnecessary "rectal feeding" and "rectal rehydration."

Detainees were also kept awake for up to 180 hours, given ice water baths and stripped naked, the Russian foreign ministry pointed out, adding that some of the detainees were "innocent."

'ENDLESS GLOATING'

Some media analysts said the release of the report was a huge boon for the Russian authorities, who would lose no time in using the revelations as a tool in Russia's propaganda war against the West.

"Every trouble in America or Europe triggers endless gloating here," liberal television critic Irina Petrovskaya told AFP.

"People have to be convinced that we are surrounded by external enemies, who are truly unprincipled and two-faced and who operate using double standards."

Russian national television repeatedly broadcast graphic footage showing crouching prisoners wearing orange jumpsuits.

"It is not uncommon for Americans to put themselves above international law," said a voiceover on Rossiya 24 television.

Local and international rights activists have repeatedly sounded the alarm over what they say are numerous rights violations in Russia.

This week several houses were torched in Chechnya after the volatile Russian region's leader called for relatives of Islamist insurgents to be punished in the wake of a bloody attack.

In 2012, a Russian opposition activist said he was abducted from Ukraine, apparently by Russian special services, and tortured into confessing to a plot against President Vladimir Putin.