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Rights advocates apologise to economist who emigrated from Russia

June 06, 2013, 10:00 UTC+3

Head of the Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said that the Council will set up a special working group so that experts could not be afraid to express their opinion

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Members of the RF Presidential Human Rights Council have brought apologies to the ex-head of the Russian New Economic School (NES), Sergei Guriyev, and other authors of the findings on the second Yukos case for the “trouble and humiliation” brought on them by the law enforcement agencies. Head of the Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said that the Council will set up a special working group so that experts could not be afraid to express their opinion.

Council Chairman Board Mikhail Fedotov told the Kommersant daily that the statement has been made so far on behalf of individual members of the Council (31 signatures), because “some of the wordings are being refined.”

The newspaper recalls that economist and member of the Expert Council under the Government of Russia Sergei Guriyev left Russia having resigned from the post of NES Rector. The Investigative Committee (SK) of the Russian Federation confirmed that he was interrogated within the second Yukos case. Guriyev participated in an expert examination of the Human Rights Council on the case, which found that the verdict delivered to Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev was “a mistake.”

In the view of the signatories, the decision of the former NES head “is free choice of a decent man” who has decided not to sell his “sense of self-respect.” Representatives of the Council apologise to the six invited Russian experts for the “trouble and humiliation, brought on them by the actions of the national law enforcement agencies.” Unlike them, they “are certain of either their own conscientiousness in the selection of experts or their integrity and competence.”

The Council members deem it necessary to provide the possibility to experts to “fearlessly express their independent opinion,” for which they are going to urgently set up a working group on “the case of experts” of the Council members who have work experience in law enforcement agencies. According to Mr. Fedotov, they are first of all Mara Polyakova who worked in the Prosecutor’s Office, and Yevgeny Myslovsky, a former investigator for particularly important cases. The Human Rights Council head pointed out that the working group “will be studying and analysing the publicly available information on the case.” He found it difficult to explain what should be the result of this analysis.

An expert who was invited by the Human Rights Council for the second Yukos case the examination - Mikhail Subbotin, told the publication that searches in his home and at the Centre for Legal and Economic Studies of the Higher School of Economics, where he holds the position of Deputy Director, were conducted in September last year. “They seized equipment, all archives, correspondence, including confidential, the centre’s activity is paralysed,” he said. According to him, the investigators were looking for the source of funding of “the wrong examination.”

Mikhail Fedotov said for his part that In April searches were made also at the National Research University - Higher School of Economics at the UNESCO department on copyright and other intellectual property rights, which he heads. The seized computers and diskettes have already been returned. According to Fedotov, “The search was conducted for the collection of evidence in the case of obstruction of a preliminary investigation,” although at the time the verdict had already come into force, and the examination itself was conducted at the request of then-President Dmitry Medvedev. “They were searched for contracts, payment orders,” said the head of the Human Rights Council. “The department has never signed such contracts, the examination was gratuitous.”

“The experts could not receive any funding from anywhere: neither from Yukos nor from Gazprom,” Mikhail Fedotov stated to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. “Because the principles, which were approved by the Human Rights Council, directly state: it is a public expert examination, which is not supposed to be paid. And it was said in the official letters that I sent to experts with the invitation to participate in the work.”

“I’m so embarrassed before respectable people who at our request displayed their civic and scientific activity, and as a result they currently have problems with the investigating authorities,” he added. “So I wrote letters to all the experts with apologies for bringing trouble on them through our fault and promised that the Council would keep this situation under control.”

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