Human Rights Defenders Hope Ella Pamfilova's Resignation Will Not Be Accepted

Source: (author), 30/07/10

· Human Rights Defenders

· Moscow City and Region

Elena Polyakovskaya: On 30 July it became known that the head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Ella Pamfilova, had tendered her resignation. There is no reliable information about the reasons for her decision. Ella Pamfilova herself has refused to comment. Human rights defenders who are members of the Presidential Council have shared their reactions to Ella Pamfilova’s decision with Radio Liberty.

Human rights activists are united in their hope that the resignation of Ella Pamfilova will not be accepted by the President. Oleg Orlov, chair of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, believes that the Council for the Promotion of Civil Society and Human Rights, established by presidential decree, that Ella Pamfilova has headed for six years, was the only thread linking government and civil society:

- It is very sad news for all Russian civil society. I had, and have, great respect for Ella Aleksandrovna [Pamfilova]. Under her leadership, the Presidential Council on Human Rights really did become an effective and efficiently functioning body. I hope that the President will recognize the importance of the Council – in practice perhaps the only thread linking his administration with civil society in Russia – and will not approve her letter of resignation. Her resignation is a symptom, indicative of how difficult it is to try to protect human rights, to defend civil society, from within the government. It also shows that a struggle is going on, that there is very strong pressure from various directions being put both on the Council and on Ella Alexandrovna. Brave and steadfast as she is, she did not show the pressure she was under and did not complain. But it is clear that some last straw, whatever it may have been, has brought an end to her patience.

Without exception, all human rights defenders believe that considerable pressure has been put on Ella Pamfilova as head of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. Former State Duma deputy, human rights defender Valery Borshchev believes that Ella Pamfilova’s resignation is a sign that, within the government, those forces that do not need civil society are winning:

- She has very limited opportunities. We understand that perfectly. She has many opponents, especially among those of high rank. But she has not given in, and she has remained honest and courageous. She has supported human rights defenders even when it seemed to be a very difficult thing to do. And she has come under constant attacks. And I would suggest that these attacks are initiated at a high level. And what has happened at Lake Seliger (representatives of the ‘Kremlin Youth’ today announced that they would sue Ella Pamfilova in the courts for negative comments she made about the activities of the pro-government youth camp at Lake Seliger. – Radio Liberty) suggests that this is not the prank of uneducated young people. We are dealing with the position of certain political forces - people who represent these political forces in the presidential administration, in the Kremlin. She realized that this is very difficult to fight against. And it is a symptom: if a person like Ella Pamfilova resigns, then this means that the other forces are winning.

And this is what head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Ludmila Alekseeva said in an interview with Radio Liberty:

- Some time ago Ella Pamfilova spoke to me about her intention to resign. I did not ask what the reasons for this were, but I know that she has suffered a great deal from the attacks against her that have been going on all the time. Especially from the crude attacks by the pro-Kremlin youth movements. I very much hope that Dmitry Medvedev will not accept Ella Pamfilova’s resignation. Ella Aleksandrovna is indispensable in this post. She has headed the Presidential Council for many years and perfectly fulfils all the very difficult responsibilities it involves. I hope that the President will not accept the resignation of Ella Alexandrovna and will reason with those who stand behind the sickening campaigns against her.

                                                                                 * * *

Tendering one’s resignation is not the same thing as leaving one’s job. Most likely, Ella Pamfilova has yet to discuss this question with the person to whom she has tendered her resignation - the President of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, news agencies report that Ella Pamfilova has already nominated a candidate to succeed her: president of the Association of Independent Centres of Economic Analysis, Aleksandr Auzan. Aleksandr Auzan himself is not yet ready to say whether he could head the Council.
Rights in Russia,
30 Jul 2010, 09:57