President Medvedev’s appointment of ex-press minister and former lawyer, Mikhail Fedotov, as the new head of the Kremlin’s human rights council has apparently produced mixed feelings in human rights circles. The prior occupant of the post, the body’s founder, Ella Pamfilova, resigned in July reportedly following ongoing battles with United Russia and pro-Kremlin forces (an occupational hazard for any Russian rights worker, some might argue).
The nomination of Fedotov, as opposed to the committee’s apparently preferred candidate, business lobbyist and economics professor Alexander Auzan, has been greeted with surprise in some quarters.
RFE/RL has some of the rights community’s reactions:
Another council member, Valentin Gefter of the Institute of Human Rights, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service he agreed that Fedotov is a consensus-builder.
“He may seem to have been suspiciously close to the government in his previous position,” Gefter said, “but on the other hand he may be able to avoid mistakes that people like I would probably make if I were to have been made director, something that was discussed.”
But not everyone agrees. Another council member, Kirill Kabanov of the National Anticorruption Committee, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service the choice of Fedotov may be meant to make the committee more pliable.
“Fedotov isn’t just a rights activist, he’s also a former bureaucrat ofthe first order, with all the attributes,” Kabanov said. “I don’tunderstand whether his appointment is a promotion for the council orsomething else.”
Fedotov’s predecessor, Pamfilova, refused to give reasons for herresignation, but she had criticized aspects of Russia’s growingauthoritarianism, including the government’s failure to protect humanrights activists who became victims of harassment and murder.
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