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ratified a number of other international human rights instruments.

In 2004, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the first Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, said that "the fledgling Russian democracy is still, of course, far from perfect, but its existence and its successes cannot be denied."

However, some leading international democracy and human rights organizations consider Russia to have not enough democratic attributes and to allow few political rights and civil liberties to its citizens. US-funded international organization Freedom House ranks Russia as "not free", citing "carefully engineered elections" and "absence" of debate. Amnesty International accuses Russia of committing wide ranging human rights abuses, including granting impunity for murderers of human rights activists, imprisoning political dissidents and operating a

system of arbitrary arrest. Human Rights Watch claims Russia commits grave human rights violations in Chechnya and allows the systematic abuse of migrant workers. Press freedom in Russia is considered amongst the lowest in the world by press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders and is ranked 141st in their annual survey, on the basis that the Russian authorities "black list" figures that are critical of the government, practice "official harassment", and "gag" potential dissidents.

Russian authorities dismiss these claims and especially criticise Freedom House. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has called the 2006 Freedom in the World Report "prefabricated"; the ministry also claims that such organizations as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch use the same scheme of voluntary extrapolation of "isolated facts that of course can be found in any country" into "dominant tendencies". The chairwoman of the Civil Society Institution and Human Rights Council at the President of Russia Ella Pamfilova also criticized the Freedom House views on Russia as "ridiculous, absurd and far-fetched".

Foreign relations

The Russian Federation is recognized in international law as successor state of the former Soviet Union. Russia continues to implement the international commitments of the USSR, and has assumed the USSR's permanent seat on the UN Security Council, membership in other international organizations, the rights and obligations under international treaties and property and debts. Russia has a

Yermak's Conquest of Siberia by Vasily Surikov.