By Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia urged the United States on Tuesday to give more scrutiny to allegations of human rights violations by U.S. soldiers and agents during conflicts abroad, pointing to reported abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Foreign Ministry's human rights representative said information from activist groups "gives reason to believe serious violations of international rights protection norms have occurred during U.S. military operations" in those countries.
"We call on the American side to pay adequate attention to this issue in the context of President (Barack) Obama's repeated assurances of his firm intention to deal with the legal violations committed during George W. Bush's presidency under the pretext of the 'war on terror,'" Konstantin Dolgov said.
The Foreign Ministry presented Dolgov's statement as a comment on the U.S. decision to conduct full criminal probes into the CIA's handling of two prisoners who died in custody, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, but to close about 100 other cases of alleged mistreatment by the CIA.
Russia has faced persistent allegations from the U.S. government and lawmakers of rights abuses against its own people since the 1991 Soviet collapse. In turn, Moscow has accused the United States of double standards and said its own conduct, particularly abroad, meant it had no right to lecture others.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on June 30 that a prosecutor who examined possible CIA abuses in the interrogation of 101 prisoners after the September 11, 2001, attacks had determined only two deaths required further criminal investigation.
A U.S. official said one case involved a 2003 death at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, while the other involved the 2002 death of an Afghan at a secret CIA prison north of Kabul.
Dolgov suggested Russia shared a prominent U.S. rights organization's disappointment that there would not be a broader investigation into alleged CIA abuses.
"We hope that investigations will be conducted taking into account the many existing signals from rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union," he said.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)