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MOSCOW, November 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Some human rights activists who have remained outside the group of candidates for the renewed presidential council for civil society and human rights are critical of the system of selection.
“That the Council needs reforming had been clear long ago, because it focused on high-profile political affairs and ignored messages from ordinary citizens. Therefore I welcome the council’s expansion and the expansion of its apparatus,” the head of the Moscow bureau for human rights, Alexander Brod, told Itar-Tass. In the meantime, said he, at the just-held meeting with President Vladimir Putin HRC chairman Mikhail Fedotov, who presented to the head of state the short lists of candidates, drawn up on the basis of a discussion in the Internet, “concealed information about candidates and public figures who were barred from Internet consultations.”
Brod said he was one of such candidates. Fedotov explained that he and a number of other contenders were barred from the Internet discussion for some formal reasons. Brod then went on a protest hunger strike for several days and was taken to hospital, but the HRC working group, responsible for forming the lists for public discussion, did not change its opinion.
“Getting into the council was not the ultimate goal for me. I am certain that there should be no cheating in the process of such an agency,” Brod said. “Irrespective of whether I am a member of the council or not I shall go ahead with my work. I have many projects.”
“I was asked to present information about candidates from the top trios following the results of the Internet-consultations,” Fedotov said in reply to Brod’s statement. “As far as information about the candidates barred from internet consultations are concerned, I told the president there were many of them,” he told Itar-Tass.
The HRC currently consists of 38 members. It is approved by the president. However, last spring and summer a number of the Council’s members declared their walkout for a number of reasons. Thirteen seats became vacant.
For forming a new composition of the council a new procedure was tested. The HRC declared a campaign to invite non-governmental organizations to make their proposals for filling the vacant seats. It suggested several nominations that would correspond to specific fields of human rights activity. The candidates were then published for a wide discussion in the Internet.
The consultations were held on September 1-15, but then their results were processed by HRC members. The short list consisted of no less than three candidates in each of the 13 nominations. Fedotov presented the list to the president on Thursday. He briefed Putin on the nominations and candidates and also said whom of the contenders the current HRC members would like to see as their future colleagues.
For his part Vladimir Putin suggested expanding the Council and including in it not only one person from each troika, but all trios in each nomination who received a majority vote in the Internet. He also came out with an idea of introducing a rotating presidium of the HRC and holding regular working meetings with it.
The updated HRC will meet in first session on November 12.