President Vladimir Putin has appointed state television presenter Valery Fadeyev as the new head of the presidential human rights council and expelled several prominent liberals from the consultative body.
Mikhail Fedotov, the council’s current head, has been dismissed from his position because of his age, Putin’s decree signed Monday said. Fadeyev, who hosted a Channel One show and has been a top official in the pro-Putin United Russia party, will replace him.
Yekaterina Schulmann, a political analyst; Pavel Chikov, the director of the Agora international rights group; and Ilia Shablinski, a Moscow Higher School of Economics professor, were removed from the council in a separate decree.
"Everyone is free! It's a mountain from our shoulders. No tortured elections and demonstrative exits, immediate or postponed,” Schulmann wrote on Facebook. “Pavel Chikov and Ilia Shablinski, my congratulations.”
The Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, which has 62 members with both pro-Kremlin and opposition political stances, is mandated to assist the Kremlin in safeguarding human rights. Observers see it as the only remaining venue for dialogue between the Kremlin and Russia's civil society.