MOSCOW -- Russia demanded that the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay be closed down as soon as possible after a Foreign Ministry envoy visited the last Russian prisoner still held there.
"This trip has just fortified our principled position, which coincides with approaches of an overwhelming majority of world community members -- states, international human rights groups, nongovernmental organizations, including those from the United States -- to the effect that the Guantanamo prison should be closed as soon as possible,” Konstantin Dolgov, a human rights envoy with the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Saturday, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.
Dolgov called Guantanamo “a shameful page in the history of the United States, a place where for many years justice has been trampled upon, where human rights and basic freedoms are being violated.”
He spoke at a news conference at the Russian embassy in Washington after returning from Guantanamo, where he visited the only remaining Russian prisoner, Ravil Mingazov, who was detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001.
Mingazov's release remains “an unconditional priority” for Russia, Dolgov said. The envoy visited Guantanamo in the company of representatives of Russia's Prosecutor General's Office and Justice Ministry.
Mingazov, 46, reportedly a ballet dancer in the past, was taken to Guantanamo in October 2002 because of alleged ties to Al Qaeda. He reportedly had left Russia for religious reasons after becoming an adherent of a radical strain of Islam.
Mingazov was initially held at Guantanamo with seven other Russian prisoners who have since been deported to Russia. One of them, Ruslan Odizhev, was subsequently killed in 2007 during a radical uprising in the Russian North Caucasus city of Nalchik. The six others are reported to have been arrested in Russia and sentenced to long prison terms for extremist activities.