Shevchuk, Romanova and Pozner to be Invited to Join Human Rights Council

Source: (info), 18/06/12

· Human rights defenders

Musician Yury Shevchuk and journalists Olga Romanova and Vladimir Pozner have been invited on to the President's Human Rights Council. According to Izvestia, a secret vote by the current members of Council resulted in their candidacies being put forward. Shevchuk told reporters that he had not yet received any such proposal.

"I have asked Council members to say who they would like to see in the council," explained Council head Mikhail Fedotov. "Ours is a fluid and vibrant body. It's important that people understand each other. You'll know all the names when the decree is signed by the President." Fedotov is planning to submit the list of candidates to Vladimir Putin this week. He added that more than a quarter of the Council's members would be replaced. had noted that a series of public figures had left the body. Fedotov announced that he had "drawn the line at 20 people". "If any more go, then I will also have to leave, resign my post and say to them: Sorry I couldn't make it happen."

Aleksandr Cherkasov the chair of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, who had also been offered a place on the Council, has already refused explaining that he "did not want to be a front". On the 15 May, Sergei Kovalyov and Oleg Orlov, Cherkasov's associates at Memorial, had called upon all their colleagues to refuse to work on the Council. "By remaining on this Council, you, who have dedicated your whole lives to the defence of human rights, could cause great harm to Russian civil society and unwittingly help to legitimise these illegitimate authorities. Regardless of how independent the Council's declarations and actions might be, it will become a screen, mere window-dressing to cover up the essentially illegal nature of the current authorities," wrote Kovalyov and Orlov. Fedotov reported that this circular had been discussed at a sitting of the Council and its members had unanimously been opposed to voluntarily dissolving their body.

Those who have left the President's Human Rights Council over the past few months are human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina, Elena Panfilova director of the Russian Branch of Transparency International, Fyodor Lukyanov chief editor of Russia in Global Politics, Ida Kuklina a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers, Aleksandr Auzan the President of Social Contract Institute, Aleksei Simonov, president of Glasnost Defence Fund, the journalist Leonid Radzikhovsky, Emil Pain, head of the Centre for Ethno-political and Regional Studies, Yury Dzhibladze, president of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, and Tatyana Maleva, Director of the Institute for Humanitarian Metropolitan Development.

The very first members of the Council to announce their resignations were television host Svetlana Sorokina and journalist Irina Yasina at the beginning of December last year immediately after the parliamentary elections. In their resignation statement they declared: "Three years of working in the Council under President Medvedev have convinced us that respect for the rights and freedoms of Russia's citizens is not a priority for the Russian President and his team."