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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid