Michael McFaul’s Visit to Vladimir

Simon Schuster has an interesting article in TIME about the Surkov-McFaul committee on human rights recently held in Vladimir.

But some of the Russian activists who participated came away feeling let down, more by Surkov’s intransigence than McFaul’s complaisance. Svetlana Gannushkina, a member of Medvedev’s Human Rights Council, tells TIME that McFaul did try to raise several rights issues, including the Magnitsky case, but was asked not to turn the talks “into an interrogation.” “Unfortunately, my fellow citizens in power have such an immense complex of inferiority that they cannot bear to go forward with these discussions,” Gannushkina says. “We shouldn’t be proud of the fact that there was no criticism. We should not be glad of the fact that we visited this prison and they showed us a Potemkin village, and everyone patted each other on the back and said how wonderful things are. This is nothing to be proud of.” Her fellow activist, Elena Tyuryukanova, Russia’s leading defender of migrants’ rights, says there was nothing at the meeting that could be called a free exchange of ideas. “It was clear to me that the goal was completely political. It was a political exercise to show that they are officially having discussions. But nothing came out of it, no criticism and no discussions.”