Pavel Chikov: We are not about politics, we are about the law

posted 30 Oct 2019, 13:53 by Translation Service   [ updated 30 Oct 2019, 14:00 ]

21 September 2019

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source Ekho Moskvy]

The number of positive things I’ve heard said about me today, I would only normally only expect to hear at my own funeral. I thank everyone for their warmth and support from the bottom of my heart.

We live in amazing times: we have been cast out of the president’s Council and people congratulated us on our release, success and achievement; new friends arrive and subscribers sign up to social media. It’s as if we were being cast out of the Russian Communist Party in 1988 (this analogy is for old people).

Now to business. In spite of losing its former splendour, the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC), remains a Baba Yaga, opposed to almost everything. And as the number of things to oppose is not decreasing, the Council continues to cause irritation. Yet the government in this country is ever less tolerant of irritants; it wants comfort, a soft armchair and pleasant words. It doesn’t want unpleasant ones. First, the liberal old guard lost the post of Human Rights Ombudsman. And the question is not only – even not very much – that of results and achievements, but that of what kind of stuff a person is made of, what values he shares and which values guide him. Before, we had Vladimir Lukin [Translator’s note: Human Rights Ombudsman from 2004 to 2014], now we have Tatyana Moskalkova [Human Rights Ombudsman from April 2016 to the present].

And now here – before we had Mikhail Fedotov [President of the HRC from October 2010 to 22 October 2019], and now we have Valery Fadeyev [President of the HRC from 22 October 2019 to present]. The names are similar but the men behind them are different. Ilya Shablinsky was perhaps the most successful in putting his membership of the Council to good use. He devised the HRC’s position on cases in the Constitutional Court (together we worked out a whole series of them), he went out to observe elections and protests, he visited Nadezhda Tolokonnikova [a member of Pussy Riot], in a prison colony (where his mother was imprisoned in the 1930s, in the Dubravlag camp), and spoke out at meetings with Putin. Ekaterina Schulmann [former member of the HRC, dismissed on 21 October 2019] will find a place to say more nasty things about the authorities in her schoolteacher’s voice.

I have nothing more to worry about. It doesn’t do to throw stones into an abandoned garden. There are 15 different committees under the president, after all. All matters in the country that are significant to civil liberties were and are our business. We have about 150 lawyers in dozens of regions. They work on a thousand cases. Every day we appear in the pages of print publications and on judicial websites. We squeeze out of our legal resources every defence that the current environment allows, and more. We are not about politics, we are about the law. And we are far below the age limit for public service.

Translated by Anna Bowles