MOSCOW — The violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, reflect simmering U.S. tensions over racial discrimination that will undermine the country's stability, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday.
The comments by the Russian Foreign Ministry's human rights envoy, Konstantin Dolgov, were among the sharpest from a foreign official as images of violent protests in Ferguson topped newscasts around the world. The protests came after a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown.
"The developments in Ferguson and other cities highlight serious challenges to the American society and its stability," Dolgov said in remarks broadcast by Russian state television.
Dismayed by continuous U.S. criticism of its democracy and rights record and its policy on Ukraine, Moscow appeared to relish turning the tables on the U.S. Relations between the two nations are at their lowest point since the Cold War due to the crisis in Ukraine.
All of Russia's state-controlled nationwide television stations began their newscasts with the footage of street violence in Ferguson, casting it as a sign of mounting public anger against discrimination, injustice and police brutality and a looming threat to U.S. stability.
"Racial discrimination, racial and ethnic tensions are major challenges to the American democracy, to stability and integrity of the American society," Dolgov said. "We may only hope that U.S. authorities seriously deal with those issues and other serious challenges in the human rights field in their own country and stop what they have been doing all along recently — playing an aggressive mentor lecturing other countries about how to meet human rights standards."
Officials in most other nations avoided the sensitive subject. In China, where authorities don't welcome scrutiny of police use of deadly force, the state-run media reported prominently on the Ferguson decision but added little or no commentary. There also appeared to be moves to stifle discussion of the Ferguson news online in China.