Rights Group Calls Russia a 'Spoiler'

WASHINGTON -- The United States and other traditional human rights champions must retake leadership of a global agenda that has been hijacked by "spoiler" states, including Russia, a rights group said Wednesday.

Controversial U.S. policies over the past several years have left a vacuum in which "by default, those often setting the human rights agenda in international forums are opponents of human rights enforcement -- governments of nations such as Algeria, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Russia," said the 2009 report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch, a New-York based rights watchdog.

In Russia, "the election of Dmitry Medvedev to the Russian presidency did not result in immediate improvements in the rule of law or the environment for civil society, with the government continuing to crack down against independent groups and activists," the report said.