Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Posts Tagged ‘Medvedev

Russian, Finnish Civic Activists Write to Their Presidents

leave a comment »

These days I am participating in the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum in Helsinki. By coincidence (well, at least the organizers say it is a coincidence), Dmitry Medvedev and the Finnish President Tarja Halonen are also meeting not far from here. The participants of the Forum used this opportunity to adopt an address to the two:

Dear President Halonen,
Dear President Medvedev,

While you are meeting today in Finland, we, representatives of Russian and Finnish civil societies, are also gathering here to discuss how non-governmental actors can contribute to cooperation between our two nations and to building a common European space based on the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights. We would like to draw your attention to the following concerns, which are in the center of our discussions today.

Like you, dear Presidents, we also want to see Russia a modern and prosperous country. However, we believe that without ensuring fundamental freedoms, building strong democratic institutions and an independent judiciary any technological modernization efforts will fail. It goes without saying that free and fair elections and independence of the media are essential to this process.

We want to share with you some of our immediate concerns, which require resolute actions that go beyond declarations.

In particular, we are convinced that the draft law granting new powers to the FSB contradicts not only the Russian Constitution but also recognized international norms. Therefore, it should not be signed by the President of the Russian Federation.

We are extremely concerned about continued persecution of human rights defenders, political activists, trade unionists and journalists in Russia. Instead of fighting terrorism and organized crime, thousands of law enforcement officials harass civic and political activists, often under the pretext of fighting extremism. This practice must be stopped. Murders of human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers must be effectively investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice. Impunity simply must come to an end.

Lack of fair trial and due process fundamentally undermine access to justice in Russia. This includes torture in pretrial detention centers, politically motivated trials in cases of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and others; persecution of Alexey Sokolov and Oleg Orlov for their human rights work and Valentin Urusov for his trade union activism, as well as the lack of effective investigation of murders of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Sergey Magnitsky. In the case of Magnitsky it is even more blatant because the names of those responsible for his death are well known. This list is by far not exhaustive.

Freedom of assembly continues to be denied to the Russian public. Across Europe we are united in support of Russian activists who convene peaceful gatherings in the framework of ”Strategy 31.” In a week from now, we will again express our solidarity with Russian people in Helsinki, Prague, Brussels, Berlin and other cities across the continent. We call on you, President Medvedev, to guarantee the freedom of assembly on 31 July and in the future.

We hope, President Halonen and President Medvedev, that these concerns close to our hearts will form an important part of your dialogue and that future Russian-Finnish modernization cooperation will include concrete projects in such areas as building independent judiciary, strengthening the rule of law and developing robust democratic institutions.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

July 21, 2010 at 16:05

Medvedev Imposes Control over Russian History

with 6 comments

From The Huffington Post.
May 20, 2009.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.
1984
George Orwell

Russia now has its own little Ministry of Truth. Dmitry Medvedev issued the decree to create a new body with a long but meaningful name: the Presidential Commission for Prevention of Falsification of History to the Prejudice of Russia’s Interests. This Commission will monitor “attempts to falsify historical facts and events” that may undermine “the international prestige of the Russian Federation” and coordinate efforts of government institutions of “adequate response to… and neutralization” of such attempts.

26 of 29 members of the Commission are either public servants or represent state bodies (or both), including FSB and SVR (External Intelligence Service). Head of Medvedev’s Administration will be the Chairman of the Commission. Only two professional historians are going to participate, both representing the semi-governmental Russian Academy of Science.

Although the Commission has no legal authority, there is no doubt that it may be very powerful thanks to its high status. Powerful–and useful for dealing with unwanted ideas. Since “falsification of history” is a very vague definition, their field of work is only limited by their own fantasy. Two topics are almost sure to be the first on the Commission’s agenda: Holodomor (famine in Ukraine and some other parts of the USSR, allegedly planned and organized by Stalin) and the occupation of Baltic states by the USSR. But soon, more subjects are probably to come. Russia’s newest history textbooks call Stalin an “efficient manager” and his mass political repressions “side effects of modernization”. KGB is rehabilitated and its proud successor FSB is the most powerful state agency. Any attempt to argue against these axioms will undoubtfully be considered a “falsifiaction of history” and equated with a thoughtcrime.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

May 19, 2009 at 21:57

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

My Column on Extending President’s Term

leave a comment »

Here is my latest column for RobertAmsterdam.com on Medvedev’s plan to change the Constitution.

First Amendment, Russian Edition

RobertAmsterdam.com

November 7, 2008

On 5th November the world’s attention was drawn to American presidential elections and the victory of Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Russian authorities used this day to declare an unprecedented reform in the country’s recent history—changes to the Constitution. Dmitry Medvedev in an annual address to the houses of the Parliament suggested that the presidential term should be increased from 4 years to 6 years and the Duma’s term—to 5 years.

There is no doubt that Medvedev’s “suggestion” will be regarded as an order by members of Parliament. They have already responded to his speech and expressed readiness to vote for any Kremlin’s amendments to the Constitution. A referendum on this issue is not required, so adopting the new legislation will be easy and quick. Some deputies have even said that Medvedev’s current term may be prolonged till 2014 instead of 2012 (and Duma’s till 2012 instead of 2011). Later and rarer elections will somewhat ease the Kremlin’s fear of an “electoral revolution”—its worst nightmare since the uprising at Kyiv Maidan.

The changes, if passed, will become the first amendment to the Russian Constitution since it was adopted on a referendum15 years ago. Medvedev’s predecessor, Vladimir Putin, has always been repeating that the Constitution doesn’t need any changes. He preferred to simply ignore it: when he abolished elections of regional governors, submitted the Parliament to himself, technically introduced censorship and political repression, violated independence of courts and property rights. But some things still couldn’t be changed without amending the Constitution, like the length of president’s term or the two-term limit. As usual with KGB, Putin didn’t do the dirty part of the work himself, he used Medvedev instead.

Ironically, the first changes to the Constitution were suggested by the person elected to his office at the staged and fraudulent elections that lacked even minimal legitimacy. Then they are to be approved by the undemocratically elected Duma lacking any real opposition and then by the Council of Federation whose members haven’t been elected at all. To add to this picture of cynicism, this is done while praising the Constitution and its standards of democracy at a pompous celebration of its jubilee planned for 12th December.

The plans to change the Constiution were immediately condemned by the opposition and don’t seem to be popular among regular people. The emerging united democratic movement Solidarity called Medvedev’s actions illegitimate and antidemocratic. The Other Russia coalition plans to hold a Dissenters’ March in December that will demand that the Constitution remains untouched. People who discuss the issue on the Internet and in the street also criticize the changes. The government, however, prefers to ignore the public opinion.

As the opposition candidate in the USA receives congratulations on winning presidential elections, Russian ruling elite shows once again that it’s not going to pass power to anybody else. Comparison of Russia’s first amendment to the Constitution to the American First Amendment perfectly symbolizes that development of democracy here has gone terribly wrong.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

November 7, 2008 at 22:51

Posted in essays

Tagged with , , ,

Do You Still Expect Liberalization?

leave a comment »

Today, as the world was discussing the outcome of presidential elections in the USA, Dmitry Medvedev claimed that the Russian Constitution would be changed soon. He plans to increase the length of president’s term to 6 years and Duma’s term to 5 years from 4 years. If this plan is implemented (and there is nothing to prevent him from doing that), this will be the first amendment to our Constitution since it was adopted 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Other Russia plans to hold another Dissenters’ March in December. Changes to the Constitution will certainly become one of its most important issues.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

November 5, 2008 at 18:24

Posted in news

Tagged with ,

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: