Support The Moscow Times!

2 More Members Quit Putin's Human Rights Council

Valentin Gefter

President Vladimir Putin’s human rights council is down two more members and is coming very close to not meeting its 20-person quorum.

Sixteen people have left the 40-member council since Putin was elected to a six-year term in March.

The latest string of departures follows the announcement that an online popularity contest would play a large role in determining new members.

Veteran rights defender Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, quit the council Friday.

Valentin Gefter, head of the Moscow-based Human Rights Institute, and Boris Pustyntsev, chairman of the St. Petersburg-based Citizens Watch group, have followed suit, the council said Monday.

Currently, new members are chosen by the president from a list of nominees put together by sitting council members.

But last week the presidential administration proposed a new system whereby NGOs would nominate candidates who would then be voted on by Internet users. The winning names would then be forwarded to Putin for the final decision.

Gefter, also a board member at Memorial, an independent human rights group that has been a harsh critic of the Kremlin, said the new method violated the council’s statutes.

Pustyntsev called it a “cover-up operation” to cull the majority of the council’s members from “government-organized nongovernmental organizations.”

The NGO nomination system is expected to begin in July, followed by Internet voting in August.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.