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

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid