The U.S. State Department has criticized several Eastern European countries in its annual human rights report, while praising some improvements.
The report criticizes Russia for corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law, political pressure on the judiciary and limiting the freedom of non-governmental organizations and independent media. It also criticized Russian troops and pro-Kremlin government forces in Chechnya for torture, executions and disappearances.
The State Department faulted Belarus for increased suppression of the opposition, new restriction on the news media and politically motivated arrests.
In Azerbaijan, the report said fraud plagued November parliamentary elections.
The report praised several Balkan countries for bringing more war crimes suspects to justice. But it noted that the two most wanted fugitives - former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his top military commander General Ratko Mladic - remain free.
The report also applauded Ukraine for notable improvements in human rights including gains by the mass media and an end to interference with the freedom of assembly Some information for this report was provided by AP.