Human rights defender outraged over remarks by Russia’s Minister of Justice


The Head of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Yury Dzhibladze is appalled over remarks made by Russia’s Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Russia was hammered over racism and violence against minorities, torture by the police and army, murders of journalists and, recently, the killing of a human rights lawyer. Reuters reports that other issues raised included political abductions in Chechnya and the northern Caucasus, Internet child pornography and limits on independent civil society bodies.

Konovalov, who is heading the Russian delegation, apparently stated that in his opinion the murders of journalists and human rights defenders in Russia were not linked with their activities and should be viewed as normal criminal incidents.

In describing his response to such assertions, Yury Dzhibladze  mentioned the killings of Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Marmelov and Anastasia Baburova, saying that the murders could not be by chance.

“These people were involved in the most controversial issues, like corruption at the top, violation of the law by highly-placed officials, the situation in the North Caucuses and in the army”, he said, adding that Russia was second only to Iraq in the level of danger for journalists.  He also believes that the official report on the human rights situation presented by the Russian Government in Geneva looks “as if it’s dealing with another country”.

Alternative view

In September last year 14 Russian human rights organizations sent the UN Human Rights Council a 17-page document presenting their alternative view of the situation and asking the Council to put a number of questions to the Russian delegation. As the Head of Memorial Oleg Orlov stressed, this is normal world practice.

Orlov says that Russian human rights defenders have hundreds of questions they would like to put to their own Government and he hopes that the UN officials will ask the delegation at least some of them.

He added that many problems are not mentioned at all in the official report. Their alternative report states that “the change in character of the political regime in Russia over recent years has led to a worsening in the human rights situation.”

They mention:

  • Antagonism from high-ranking officials to human rights NGOs;
  • All the main television channels are under the effective control of the state and do not provide needed information and diversity of opinions and present government propaganda;
  • The law is applied selectively for political and economic motives;
  • Lawlessness and impunity of officials are increasing;
  • There are insufficient safeguards for the independence of the judicial system and adversarial court proceedings;
  • Freedom of peaceful demonstrations and processions is being impinged with the law enforcement agencies treating those detained brutally. The position of the Russian Federation on issues of human rights violations in other countries “is becoming ever less constructive”.

From reports at the BBC Russian Service ( ) and

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