President Putin says human rights work is not 'political'

posted 14 Dec 2013, 09:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Dec 2013, 09:40 ]
11 December 2013

Source: (info)
The law on “foreign agents" has become one of the most important topics raised during the informal part of the meeting of the Russian President with human rights activists that took place on 10 December in Novo-Ogarevo.

They reminded the President that this problem, which had been discussed on 4 September at a meeting with members of the Human Rights Council, remains unresolved and that the flawed legislation on NGOs receiving foreign funding continues to have a negative impact on the voluntary sector.

As reported by the Agency for Social Information, the meeting at Novo-Ogarevo was scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day, and a member of the Human Rights Council, Elena Topoleva, suggested that the President repeal l this wretched law to mark this special day. “Vladimir Putin smiled, but said that the law was still needed because you cannot engage in political activity with foreign money. We asked him: what do you count as political activity?” Topoleva recounts. “He very clearly stated: human rights work is not political activity. We asked what was it then? The struggle for power? The President replied: yes, but not only that.”

“The prosecutors are using a much wider definition of ‘political activity’ than the President,” Elena Topoleva pointed out. Vladimir Putin stressed that all the problems with this definition should be decided by a specially created working group that includes members of the Human Rights Council and representatives of the legal department of the presidential administration. "Now we shall insistently try to convince the presidential administration to enter into negotiations and to work out a definition of ‘political activity that everyone will agree with and that will be accepted by the prosecutors,” said Elena Topoleva.

Translated by Graham Jones