Kremlin human rights adviser quits amidst retrograde rights climate


Deutsche Welle | 30.07.2010

The Kremlin’s top human rights adviser has stepped down in the face of hostility from a pro-Kremlin, nationalist youth group. Ella Pamfilova had fought to make Russia more just, but often came up against a brick wall. The chairman of Russia’s presidential council on human rights resigned Friday in a move widely seen as a protest against the deteriorating rights situation in Russia. Ella Pamfilova, the activist who chaired President Dmitry Medvedev’s council on human rights and oversaw the development of civil society, resigned amidst heavy fire from the Nashi nationalist youth group, as well as strong disagreement with Medvedev’s human rights policies.

Accused of slander

The pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi had threatened to sue Pamfilova for slander after she criticized the group for an exhibition staged at its annual summer camp on Lake Seliger. The exhibition featured images of the heads of Russian liberal leaders, such as 83-year-old human-rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, stuck on stakes in Nazi helmets. When images of the exhibition surfaced after President Medvedev’s visit to the camp, Pamfilova told the Echo of Moscow radio station she was "frightened" to realize "that these guys will come to power in a number of years." "That will be terrible," she said, adding, "That is intolerable – more so because the president has been there, at Seliger.” If these cynical guys who don’t care about anything, allow themselves anything, persecute people, because they know that adult men in high positions protect them, then that is terrible for the country," she warned. 

The day before Pamfilova’s resignation, Medvedev signed legislation to strengthen the FSB, the KGB’s secret-service successor – a move Pamfilova’s council deemed the "rebirth of the unlawful and worst practices of a totalitarian state, with the goal of seeding fear and mistrust in the people." Pamfilova said that her decision to leave her post was not taken overnight. The activist had told European Union officials in March that Russia’s democratic institutions were underdeveloped and that there had been no significant progress in civil rights. The Kremlin suggested in a statement to reporters that Pamfilova’s departure was long in coming. Human rights groups have expressed their deep regret at Pamfilova’s departure.

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