The post of human rights ombudsman is a constitutional
post. It therefore takes a constitutional majority in the Duma –
300 legislators - to elect the ombudsman.
The pro-presidential United Russia faction controls 308 votes. This
situation guaranteed Vladimir Lukin's
election as ombudsman, even though the Yabloko party he represents is
United Russia's ideological antagonist.
The current ombudsman, Oleg Mironov, is not giving up without afight.
He will nominate himself in the Duma, even though the Communist faction
does not guarantee support.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
(LDPR), may also decide to run for ombudsman.
Alexei Mitrofanov, deputy leader of the LDPR faction, was extremely
critical of Lukin's nomination by the President. "Lukin is a career
diplomat. What does his experience have to do with human rights?"
Mitrofanov demanded. "He spends 260 days a year on trips abroad.
What if he decides to use the ombudsman's resources for these travels?
Maybe the Kremlin wants its ombudsman to be always on the road. What we
need is a real defender of human rights. People from the Caucasus are
being beaten up on the streets in Russia. Where is the ombudsman? Some
army conscripts were hospitalized with pneumonia and worse. Where is the
Lukin himself, the Kremlin's candidate, who had a personal audience
with the president a week ago, has declined to comment. Other Yabloko
functionaries were not so reticent.
Yabloko deputy leader Sergei
Mitrokhin says the party will "support" Lukin because the
human rights situation in Russia "is something else" and "a
great deal still needs to be done."
Sergei Ivanenko, another
deputy leader of Yabloko, considers Putin's choice symbolic. "This
decision clearly shows the importance the President attaches to the Yabloko
party," Ivanenko said. All the same, the President’s attention
does not mean that Lukin the ombudsman must be loyal to the regime, added
Like Igor Artemiev of
Yabloko, who will allegedly soon be appointed deputy minister for economic
development, Lukin will be another representative of the Yabloko party
in the state structures. This is in line with Putin's promise to make
use of Yabloko's personnel resources.