On Wednesday, the first meeting of the extended by Vladimir Putin Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights (HRC) will be held. It will establish a working group that will develop a new governance structure and mechanism of the Human Rights Council work. The working group on the case of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky will stop its independent functioning in the Council, but a group for the protection of the rights of believers may appear in it. The new members of the Council have already put forward a proposal to President Putin to become the HRC head.
One of the first decisions of the Council will be the creation of a working group that will “think over the Council’s internal structure,” HRC head Mikhail Fedotov told the Kommersant daily. Some issues will be settled by the statute on the Council, and some – by the rules of procedure: the rules are an internal document that has not yet been adopted by the HRC, and the statute on the Council will be approved by the RF president. According to Vladimir Putin’s proposal, the Council, which has been enlarged to 63 members (in the past years it had the maximum 40 members), will have a presidium that will be constantly rotated, Fedotov said.
In addition, according to Fedotov, several new groups, including on the migration policy, labour rights and human rights in the post-Soviet space may be formed, as a result of which their number can be increased from 16 to 18. Some HRC groups will be assigned new functions. Thus, the group “for citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption” will also pool efforts for monitoring the activities of law enforcement agencies. The group on the Magnitsky case will be merged with it. The Council new members already have their own proposals, including on the creation of the group “for the rights of believers.”
However, the Council governance issue has not yet been settled, the newspaper notes. New HRC member, head of the Centre for Strategic Studies of Religion and Politics of the Modern World journalist Maxim Shevchenko told the newspaper that the HRC – it’s “the Council under the president, and not under Fedotov or Shevchenko,” and that the HRC chairman should not replace the Commissioner for Human Rights. “The Council should not oppose the president, not to fight with the president and play along with the president, but to inform him,” Shevchenko said.
The head of the Commission for Civil Society of the RF Public Chamber, Iosif Diskin, who has also become HRC member, said that the most useful thing for the HRC status would be if Vladimir Putin becomes its chairman. “All the Councils at the President – for Culture, Science and Education – are headed by the Head of State, and the advisers are his deputies of the executive secretaries,” Diskin said.