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RF President holds meeting of renovated Human Rights Council

November 13, 2012, 12:01 UTC+3

RF head of state has promised not to take offense at criticism of HRC members

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On Monday, there was a meeting of the renovated and enlarged RF Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights (HRC). On the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the top three winners from each category in the electronic voting formed the new Council. The RF head of state has promised not to take offense at criticism of HRC members.

HRC Chairman Mikhail Fedotov expressed the hope that the new Council will be effective, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily writes. “I hope that it is quite efficient. There are a lot of excellent specialists, brilliant experts, representatives of major non-governmental organisations with rich experience there,” said Fedotov. The Human Rights Council will continue to deal with high-profile cases, the human rights activist said. “It’s not that the Council will rush to defend persons accused in certain high-profile cases, but that the Council is trying to protect the society interests from mistakes of the legislator and law enforcer,” Mikhail Fedotov said.

Vladimir Putin has warned members of the Council about the possibility of difference in his views with their assessments, urging them not to take offense at this, and promised not to take offence himself, emphasises the Novye Izvestia newspaper. “If our views do not always coincide, you also should do not take offense at me,” Putin told the human rights advocates at the table. “I will do everything in order not to take offence at anything I hear from you, but I would also ask you not to take offence.”

During the meeting, publicist Irina Khakamada drew the RF president’s attention to the high-profile bill on violation of the feelings of believers that was generated by the Pussy Riot case, the RBC Daily notes. All the (parliament) factions support the bill, but lawyers are unanimous in the opinion that it is faulty, she told the president. In her opinion, the article (of the RF Criminal Code) dealing with “insulting the religious feelings of citizens” should be either modified or totally removed. The law has not been adopted yet, but some regions have already started to prohibit some movies and rock operas, Khakamadas aid. “If you sign the law, it will discredit you as president,” the publicist continued. “Maybe its authors are driven by benevolent intentions, but the law, is faulty, in essence.” Vladimir Putin agreed “not to hurry” with the adoption of the law.

Leonid Parfenov took the floor at the meeting speaking of the freedom of the media, the Kommersant daily writes. According to him, in a situation where the “black and white is prohibited, yellow appears.” “The government,” he said, “should display a certain self-restraint regarding control over the air,” and also quoted himself as saying earlier: “About the authorities in our country – it’s like about the dead – say nothing but good.” However, Mr. Putin called controversial the thesis that the national TV channels are addicted to “cruelty and indecency” because they are prohibited to show the rest. But the main thing is that he did not argue with the fact that the main federal channels are controlled by the Kremlin. In addition, he urged the Council members and management of TV channels to decide what to do in this situation, and also asked to present to him a coordinated position (“only necessarily agreed upon by all stakeholders”) – “and I will make every effort to implement these proposals.”

The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily stressed that there are many journalists among the new members of the Council, including Chief Editor of the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper Pavel Gusev, Nikolai Svanidze, Leonid Parfenov, Yelena Masyuk, Stanislav Kucher and Radik Batyrshin.

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