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Members of the Presidential Human Rights Council are dissatisfied with the procedure proposed to form the agency

June 25, 2012, 11:30 UTC+3

Expected changes in the procedure to form this agency evoked criticism not only among public figures, but also incumbent members of this council

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MOSCOW, June 25 (Itar-Tass) — At the end of the previous week the Russian presidential administration voiced at a meeting the proposals on the procedure to form the Presidential Human Rights Council. Expected changes in the procedure to form this agency evoked criticism not only among public figures, but also incumbent members of this council. In protest against the conditions imposed for the formation of the council several well-known human rights activists already stated about their decision to quit the council and the existence of the council in the current form is under threat.

The Novye Izvestia daily recalled that the Presidential Human Rights Council is an advisory body under the president. Its current makeup has been working since 2009 with the initial line-up of 39 members. The effective regulations of the council envisage the procedure, under which its makeup is approved by the president on the nomination by the chairman of the council. This article 11 from the regulations of the council raised indignation in the Kremlin administration, which decided to revise the procedure to form the advisory body under the Russian president.

The presidential administration suggested a new procedure to form the council, under which any public organization can nominate its candidate and the voting will be held in the Internet. The candidates, which will gain the largest percentage of votes, will be put on the list, which will be passed for consideration to the president then. The president is to select 13 out of 39 candidates for new members of the council.

Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva believes that this way to select members of the council is next to blatant mocking on common sense, because even members of the societies of gardeners and beekeepers, which have no relation to human rights activities, can be appointed as members of the council, if the president decides to appoint them. This procedure to form the Presidential Human Rights Council evoked broad protests among human rights activists. Lyudmila Alexeyeva told the Novye Izvestia daily that she will quit the council, if first deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin, who voiced this variant to form the council, does not give up this idea.

The Kremlin took the scandal, which was stirred up over the Presidential Human Rights Council on Friday, with major astonishment and discontent. Various variants of the reform were offered to the members of the council for last few months. Since the human rights activists began leaving the council after Putin’s comeback to the Kremlin, 2-3 schemes were offered to chairman of the council Fedotov, a source in the presidential administration told the RBC daily. “Their sense boiled down to the nomination of candidates, particularly by public organisations from the regions, and the introduction of the mechanisms of partial rotation,” the source explained. But the chairman of the council denied all proposals.

Mikhail Fedotov’s public position aroused a special discontent in the Kremlin, the newspaper noted. The Kremlin complained that it was Mikhail Fedotov who made the previous President Dmitry Medvedev introduce a vague and non-transparent procedure to form the council in the regulations of the council. Under this procedure the chairman submits the proposals for a makeup of the council to the president and it is his business how the list is formed. “This suited all members, who have been working in the council for years, and when the question was raised on what grounds the chairman is forming the council on his own and without any consultations, members of the council resisted and did not want to go into any compromises,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the presidential administration affirmed that the previous makeup of the council actually did not deal with anything, except for the Khodorkovsky criminal case, and blamed the incumbent members of the council in excessive politicization. Now the Kremlin said that over a fuss raised in the press they will not insist on the formation of the whole council on a new principle and only on the replacement of 13 human rights activists, who quitted the council with Putin’s coming in the Kremlin.

The new procedure to form the council may result not in the replacement of the well-known members with new people, but with an unviable council and its dissolution, the Vedomosti daily noted in an editorial article. In the last few years the council turned in a channel of bilateral ties between the authorities and the discontented minority and permitted to raise unpleasant questions in public, the newspaper reported. The new procedure to form the council will make it possible to staff it by more loyal human rights activists. The question remains open, whether it is profitable for the Kremlin to remain without the channel of communication with the disloyal minority.

The reform will put an end to the Presidential Human Rights Council in its current shape, member of the council Igor Yurgens told the Vedomosti daily, noting that the majority will be formed from people loyal to the authorities.

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