Rights in Russia

RUSSIA’S President Putin is a man of few words. As a rule, he does not speak when he doesn’t have to. That is perhaps why when he does speak his words are taken seriously. Earlier this week, in a meeting with Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights commissioner of Council of Europe, the Russian leader admitted with atypical candour that Russia has lingering problems with human rights.

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Published: Tue 31 May 2005, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:48 PM

Putin didn’t stop at that; he even promised to address those problems. That is really unusual for a leader who in the past has often angrily rebuffed any criticism against Russia’s human rights record. This new tolerance for healthy and constructive criticism is indeed welcome.

The rights situation in Russia is really grim. Last month, Gil-Robles completed a detailed report on human rights conditions in the country with special focus on the troubled Chechnya. While Russia’s civic problems like institutionalised crime and corruption and deplorable living conditions are only too well known, there have been few meticulous and apolitical attempts to study the situation in Chechnya. This is why the report by Gil-Robles is so invaluable. Moscow’s dogged refusal to deal with the Chechen question politically and sympathetically has not only cost it dearly but has devastated a whole province and its people and way of life. We only hope the report by the Council of Europe would make Putin take a fresh look at the issue of rights situation in Russia in general and Chechnya in particular and act on the recommendations made by Gil-Robles. It’s never too late to see the truth and correct the course.

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