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CUBA BLASTS RUSSIA FOR BACKING U.S.

Cuba Saturday accused former ally Russia of "vile and disloyal" betrayal for supporting U.S. criticism of Havana's human-rights record.

In a bitter rebuke to Cuba's former friend of three decades, the official newspaper Granma attacked what it said was the Russian government's intention to side with the United States in a vote against Cuba at the United Nations Human-Rights Commission in Geneva."What we have to ask is why representatives of a nation which still figures in international rankings as a power and not as a Third World country with nuclear missiles is behaving in such a vile and disloyal manner toward a country united not only by diplomatic, commercial and even military links but also by a friendship that has survived hard tests," the newspaper said in an article written by one of its journalists.

The article appeared to reflect bitterness felt by Cuban authorities at Moscow's increasing alignment with the United States, Cuba's main political enemy, on several international issues.

Cuba is suffering widespread shortages of oil, food and other goods because of the collapse of its preferential trade ties with Moscow following the break-up of the former Soviet Union.

Granma, official mouthpiece of Cuba's ruling Communist Party, directed most of its fury at the head of the Russian delegation to the U.N. Commission in Geneva, Sergei Kovalev.

Kovalev, a former political prisoner, this week hosted an unprecedented diplomatic reception at the former Soviet embassy in Geneva for three exiled Cuban dissidents and opponents of Cuban President Fidel Castro's government.

Granma described the reception as a "stateless party in a Russian tavern" attended by U.S. officials and "Cuban counter-revolutionaries."

The newspaper said Kovalev had not only offended the Cuban people but also perplexed public opinion in his own country.

Granma also accused the United States of mounting what it called "a typical show" at the U.N. Human-Rights Commission in Geneva.

The United States has been lobbying Cuba's former socialist allies and Latin American countries to back a vote of censure against the communist-ruled island for repression of political opponents and other human-rights abuses.