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Mikhail Gokhman

Preliminary conspiracy

Izvestia, January 22, 2001, p. 3

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 is'".

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..."

Izvestia, January 22, 2001, p. 3