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Human Rights Defenders and Leading Public and Cultural Figures Initiate National Round Table

Source: HRO.org (info), 29/11/11 

Human rights defenders 

A group of human rights defenders, scientists, academics, writers and artists have together initiated the creation of a "national round table". The initiators envision this round table as a mechanism to ease the peaceful transformation from an authoritarian rule, based on a single personality, to a democratic political system, based on the rule of law. 

A letter received by the editors of Grani.ru states that the initiators of the round table, who include human rights activists Ludmila Alekseeva and Sergei Kovalev, actresses Liya Akhedzhakova and Natalya Fateeva, the writer Vladimir Voinovich, and civil society activists Georgy Satarov and Aleksei Simonov, have invited all those committed to the values of freedom and individual rights, and those “who are ready to take part in the search for a way out for Russia from the ruinous dead end” to take part in the founding assembly. The organizers hope that the round table will become a permanent platform for working out an alternative to the current system of personalized political power. Representatives of opposition political parties,Grani.ru notes, have also been invited to take part. 

“Our goal is the creation of a package of demands, shared by fellow citizens and based on civil rights, that we shall put to the authorities regarding preparations to bring an end to the present system of authoritarian rule,” Mikhail Kasyanov, co-chair of the Party of People’s Freedom, told Kommersant. “We are moving towards a regime of life-long personal dictatorship – this is the new reality. We need to discuss what the democratic opposition and civil society activists should do in these new conditions,” said Boris Nemtsov, the other co-chair of the Party of People’s Freedom. 

On 12 December it is planned to discuss reports by experts on the character of the political system that has formed in Russia, the scenarios for economic development of the country, and the paths to a non-violent transition to democracy. 

Already on 10 November Mikhail Kasyanov had announced that the Russian opposition and representatives of the “human rights and intellectual elite” would begin the process of setting up a “round table to establish a framework for future negotiations regarding the transfer of power.” 

“We do not want to see a revolutionary development of the situation,” Mikhail Kasyanov had then said. “We want to prevent an ‘Arab spring’. It is very important that the Russian elite – the intelligentsia, human rights defenders, the business community – shares this view.”