Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

EU Lawmaker: Russia Better Off Without Putin

A senior European lawmaker harshly criticized Russia's human rights record and said the country would be better off without Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Heidi Hautala, head of the European Parliament parliament's subcommittee on human rights, told Ekho Moskvy radio on Friday that the living conditions of Russian prisoners amounted to a "catastrophe" and said the legal onslaught against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was "politically fabricated."

Hautala, wrapping up a visit that included a stop by a banned opposition rally near Moscow's Triumfalnaya Ploshchad on Aug. 31, said she was "shocked" that Putin had made a "direct call" for the police to use violence against peaceful demonstrators who take part in regular unsanctioned rallies at the end of every month with 31 days.

Putin told Kommersant in an interview published last Monday that the police would beat unsanctioned protesters "upside the head with a truncheon."

At the Aug. 31 rally, Hautala told reporters that "Russia would be better off without Putin," BBC Russian Service reported Wednesday.

Hautala criticized Khodorkovsky's ongoing trial, saying she had seen "the prosecutor clearly exercising pressure on a witness to make him testify against Khodorkovsky under the threat of jailing [the witness]."

Khodorkovsky is serving an eight-year sentence on fraud and tax evasion charges and is now on trial on related charges that carry a sentence of up to 22 years. He maintains his innocence.

Prosecutors had no immediate comment about Hautala's criticism.

Hautala also called prison living conditions "the main catastrophe of human rights" in Russia and said the European Parliament was "closely following" the case of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in detention last November.

The Prosecutor General's Office said Aug. 11 that more than 90 percent of prisoners in Russian prisons and pretrial detention facilities have health problems.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more