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Statement by the International Memorial Society on the Campaign Against Vladimir Lukin

Source: (Author), 13/07/10


The propaganda campaign against Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin of the past few weeks is highly reminiscent of similar events from the Soviet era. The only difference is that the campaign apparently does not originate among the country’s top political leadership. It looks more like a game of bureaucratic intrigue, thought up in the offices of ‘second level’ officials.
As in Soviet times, this campaign is disguised as the ‘voice of public opinion.’ Its ‘initiators’ were provincial NGOs, among which were a number of ‘veterans’ associations and regional ‘public chambers.’
As in Soviet times, the very timing of statements and speeches, that began simultaneously in different regions of the country, leaves no doubt that this campaign is not spontaneous. It is organized.
It is easy to see that the reason for the campaign has been the Ombudsman’s public criticism of the police actions of 31 May, when police broke up an opposition rally on Triumphal Square in Moscow.
Lukin allowed himself to criticize the actions of law enforcement officers ‘in carrying out their duties.’ Evidently, some bureaucrats in the Kremlin regarded this as a violation of some kind of ‘corporate ethic’ (what a government official of his rank can and cannot say or do). And the call to the President to ‘reconsider the question of V. P. Lukin’s appointment,’ which is absolutely contrary to the law, is not a simple slip of the tongue. It is a formula that reflects the level of understanding of the relationship between different branches of government.
Lukin’s opponents do not accept the very idea of the institution of human rights ombudsman, as defined in the Constitution and elaborated in the law ‘On the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation.’
These people are determined to see in the office of the ombudsman not a modern mechanism by which government exercises self-restraint in favour of public liberty, but just one more ministry - a ministry for human rights. In other words, just one more way of simulating democracy.
And the fact that Lukin’s opponents chose such openly Soviet methods of struggle, with the help of a surrogate ‘public opinion,’ is no accident. They do not realize that over the past 20 years the country has changed. The very existence of the office of Human Rights Ombudsman is a very clear witness to these changes.
The fact that some of the regional ombudsmen were not afraid to refute statements against Lukin that were attributed to them is equally clear evidence of the changes that have occurred. At the same time this is also proof that government officials today are no longer in a position to completely abolish the results of the democratic developments of the past 20 years.
We appreciate very highly the work and independent stance of the Human Rights Ombudsman and wish Vladimir Petrovich Lukin every success in this role in the future.
Board of the International Memorial Society
13 July 2010
Rights in Russia,
14 Jul 2010, 06:25