Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations filed a formal complaint last month demanding that the head of the world body’s human rights organization cease criticizing Donald Trump and other anti-Muslim politicians.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday that he had delivered a démarche, a form of diplomatic protest, to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month. The complaint was in response to comments from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, denouncing the racist rhetoric of Trump and European nationalists, including Geert Wilders, the Dutch populist who has promised to close mosques and ban the Quran if elected.
“Prince Zeid is overstepping his limits from time to time and we’re unhappy about it,” Churkin told the AP.
There was no indication that Trump requested Russia’s intercession on his behalf, or that he was even aware of the comments from the head of the U.N. rights group. As Julia Ioffe explains in Politico, Russia has previously supported inward-looking, nationalist politicians in Europe, seeing them as less likely to be critical of Russian foreign and domestic policies. Hillary Clinton and her supporters have seized upon Trump’s boasts about being praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin as evidence of his naivete in world affairs.
On Friday afternoon, United States intelligence officials accused the Russian government of directing the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email server, in a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the statement said. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
An unnamed senior U.N. diplomat told the AP that Churkin specifically “condemned the fact that Zeid mentioned Trump” in a blistering speech about “populists and demagogues in Europe and U.S.” delivered on September 5, and in remarks at a law school in Cleveland in April.
The Jordanian argued in the September speech that Trump, Wilders, and other nationalist politicians — including Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate for president of France, and Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign — echo the xenophobic ideology of the Islamic State militant group. “All seek in varying degrees to recover a past, halcyon and so pure in form, where sunlit fields are settled by peoples united by ethnicity or religion — living peacefully in isolation, pilots of their fate, free of crime, foreign influence and war,” he said. “A past that most certainly, in reality, did not exist anywhere, ever.”
The prince, who is a member of the Jordanian royal family born to a Swedish mother, also remarked: “I am a Muslim, who is, confusingly to racists, also white-skinned; whose mother is European and father, Arab.”
Prince Zeid first referred to Trump as a threat during an address to the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in April.
“Less than 150 miles away from where I speak, a front-running candidate to be president of this country declared, just a few months ago, his enthusiastic support for torture,” the rights chief said. “We have heard hateful slander of foreigners, and multiple candidates declaring their support for extensive and intrusive surveillance of people based on their religious beliefs –vast and discriminatory systems to single out and discriminate against Muslims.”
“We have seen a full-frontal attack — disguised as courageous taboo-busting,” he added, “on some fundamental, hard-won tenets of decency and social cohesion that have come to be accepted by American society.”