ANALYSIS OF THE EMERGENCY CONGRESS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
WHICH TOOK PLACE LAST WEEKEND. Russian human rights activists
concerned about the situation in Russia
An all-Russian emergency congress of human rights activists
was held at Hotel Kosmos last weekend. It was an "emergency"
congress, as its delegates believe that the situation with human
rights in the country is catastrophic. In his report, Duma Deputy
Sergei Kovalev mentioned a trend towards the establishment of
a new political regime in Russia. He believes that any retreat
to totalitarianism begins with "quiet technical tricks".
Kovalev was very critical of the Chechen war, the "independence"
of the Interior Ministry, the prosecutor's office and the Federal
Security Service from the viewpoint of human rights values, and
the course of "facilitating relations with non-democratic
regimes" pursued by the Kremlin. In an interview with this
reporter, Kovalev said that he "is prepared to share the
joy of successes made by this team, which I earnestly dislike.
After all, I do not want to discover one fine day that my position
is restricted to the cliche: 'the worse it is, the better it actually
Kovalev's successor Oleg Mironov says he is "concerned"
about the situation with human rights in Russia and that it can
"may be assessed as unsatisfactory". Mironov says that
leaving millions without electricity and central heating also
constitutes a violation of human rights. Mironov is only glad
that a rapport has been established between public and state human
rights organisations. He said: "We have one task and one
goal, there can be no discord." Why convene a congress in
the first place? Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Igrunov explains the major
goal as he sees it. "I think that people should meet and
that horizontal contacts be established. The human rights movement
is impossible without them". Grigori Yavlinsky of Yabloko
turned up at the Kosmos Hotel on the second day of the congress.
He was sharply critical of the regime for what he termed "total
bureaucracy". The constitution Yavlinsky has been castigating
for seven years has suddenly become Yabloko's programme document.
According to its leader, Yabloko will defend it with "all
parliamentary and non-parliamentary methods". Yabloko was
one of the major sponsors of the congress. The remaining money
was provided by American foundations. Boris Berezovsky did not
chip in. Lev Ponomarev, Executive Director of the movement For
Human Rights says that the decision was made not to accept anything
from Russian business tycoons, even though some of them had offered
their services. Actually, many human rights activists are unequivocal
about Berezovsky's new hobby (support of the human rights movement).
Recalling how he had called Berezovsky a puppet-master a year
ago, Kovalev said that he "was wary about Berezovsky's position
then" and "is even more wary of his position today..."