On Thursday President Vladimir Putin at the meeting with the head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, proposed to increase the number of the Council’s human rights activists who will take seats of ex-members, who left the Council last May. In compliance with the rule of rotation the president should have approved thirteen new members of the Council from the list of 39 nominees on the basis of Internet consultations and recommendations from the Council’s members. However, the head of state proposed to expand the Council approving the first three leaders in each sector by the results of Internet consultations. Thus, the Council will include experts both liberal and loyal to the authorities.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily recalled that candidates to take seats in the Human Rights Council were chosen by the results of public consultations in the Internet that were held from September 1 to September 15. Initially there were 108,000 candidates and 420,000 responses. Each vacancy has its own specialization on police reform, judicial reform, human rights in the North Caucasus and so on. This helped to withdraw from the list those experts, who do not specialize in these areas. Candidates could have been nominated by members of the Council, ombudsmen and non-profit organizations with no less than a five year experience of work. After these procedures 86 candidates for 13 seats in the Council remained and consultations in the Internet focused on these nominees. This was not a voting, as “in this process there is only one voter – the president of the Russian Federation,” Fedotov said.
Having listened to Mikhail Fedotov’s recommendations the president noted that many candidates are not only renowned figures, but also good experts in their spheres of activity, the Kommersant business daily reported. “It’s a pity that they can be left out of our Council,” Putin said proposing “to include in the Council the first three leaders in each sector.” “This will make up some 55-60 members.”
Moreover, Putin noted that the Council gathers in full force not often and proposed to elect “a rotating presidium” for regular meetings with the president, while the whole Council “can meet once or twice a year.”
A source in the Human Rights Council told the daily that there are several suppositions concerning the Council’s enlargement. First of all, difference in the number of votes given in support of candidates in each category is very small. Moreover, the president wants to see the Council working in a regular, non-stop regime.
A member of the Public Chamber, Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, who will enter the Human Rights Council, believes that “it was simply impossible to line up” members of the former Council. “There were like-minded people, while now the Human Rights Council will bring together absolutely different people with different convictions.” The new Council will look more like the Public Chamber, where the agreement in opinions is very rare. If earlier the whole Council often made statements, now there will be statements of certain groups, she said.
Meanwhile, Kirill Kabanov, a member of the anti-corruption working group, who has been in the Council since 2008, said he saw “nothing dangerous in the Council’s enlargement” and expressed no fears over the fact that “people holding pro-Kremlin and anti-government views will work in one team.”
Putin found the balance between liberals and loyal advisors, RBK daily wrote. “The main idea is that the theme of human rights should not be monopolized by pro-western liberals, it is necessary to slightly balance the composition of the Council with persons loyal to the authorities,” said Yevgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute for Political Expertise.