News / Europe

Top Russian Human Rights Advisor Steps Down

James Brooke

The top human rights advisor to Russia's president resigned Friday, the day after President Dmitri Medvedev signed into law a bill expanding powers of the successor agency to the KGB.

After weeks of attack by conservatives, Ella Pamfilova resigned Friday from her post as head of the president's Council on Human Rights and Development of Civil Society.

The normally outspoken human rights activist was silent Friday on her reasons for resigning from Russia's top human rights post.  But she had complained earlier that she was not receiving support from President Medvedev.  The president, a lawyer, raised hopes of liberals when he took office two years ago.

On Thursday, Russia's president signed into law a bill that allows the Federal Security Service (FSB) to take into preventive detention people suspected of planning to commit a crime.  Perpetrators face fines or up to 15 days in detention.

Masha Lipman, a political analyst at the Moscow office of the Carnegie Endowment, said that new law is vaguely written. "They probably thought they needed this legislation in anticipation of the forthcoming election cycle, to curb undesired activism, protests in cities and towns of Russia," said Lipman.

The bill was introduced in Russia's Duma, or parliament, in the wake of last April's deadly suicide bombings in Moscow's subway system by two women tied to a jihad movement in Russia's heavily Islamic south.  Defenders of the bill say that Russia's domestic intelligence agency can now use the bill to abort future terrorist attacks.

Severe opposition to the bill resulted in it being watered down.  The Duma dropped some of the most stringent clauses, including tightening controls on the media for "extremist statements."

Two weeks ago, in the middle of a national debate on the bill, liberals said they were disappointed to hear President Medvedev tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference that the law was drawn up "on my direct instructions."

He told the German leader: "Each country has the right to perfect its legislation."

This week, Pamfilova, the human rights advisor, complained that Mr. Medvedev did not back her up when she tangled with Nashi, a pro-Kremlin youth group.  This summer, a Nashi camp has been decorated with photo images of Russian liberals placed on stakes and topped with Nazi hats.  In an interview with Moscow's Radio Echo, Pamfilova noted that President Medvedev had visited the camp.

Referring to young Russians who go through political indoctrination at the camp, she said: "I am frightened that these guys will come to power in a certain number of years."

In response to her comments, Nashi sued her this week for slander.

One liberal vilified at the Nashi camp is Lyudmila Alexeyeva, 83, head of the human rights organization, Helsinki Group.  She has noted that her father died fighting the Nazis in World War II.

Speaking to VOA on Friday, she said that the Nashi members are "are just ill-bred young men if they behave like that towards an old woman."

She noted fascism propaganda is prohibited in the country, and added "They probably think they are above the law."

Alexeyeva said the preventive detention law would only make official the long-standing practices by FSB agents in Russia.

Saturday, July 31 may see a first use of the new preventive detention law.  On the 31st day of each month, Russian dissidents routinely hold protest rallies to mark Article 31 of the Russian constitution, the clause that guarantees freedom of assembly.  The May 31 rally was broken up violently by police.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More