Human rights activists advise Putin

Moscow, 02.10.2015

At their annual meeting with Vladimir Putin, members of the Federation’s Presidential Council on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights discussed amendments to the law on “foreign agents”, approved a Bill on the prevention of domestic violence and made recommendations on the prevention of environmental disasters. The Chair of the Council, Mikhail Fedotov, explained that one of the most important outcomes to come out of the meeting was Putin’s endorsement for changes to the “foreign agents” law. As a result, a working group led by the First Deputy of the Federation’s Presidential Office, Vyacheslav Volodin, has been tasked to develop a number of amendments to the legislation. The first meeting of the 50 man working group will be held in mid-October.

Presidential Council members also submitted a Bill on the prevention of domestic violence to Vladimir Putin. One of its members, Svetlana Aivazova, stated that the existing law deals with incidents of violence but doesn’t do anything to address the question of prevention. She recalled cases where a man murdered his wife, mother and six children in Nizhny Novgorod in August this year, and of Tatyana Kulakovaya who killed her husband following an attempted violent assault. In 2014, 25% of all recorded murders took place within the family, with a further 2,000 family killings registered during the first six months of 2015, as well as more than 5,000 incidents of grievous bodily harm, said Aivazova. However, very few victims report such cases to the relevant authorities, particularly children and the elderly.

The cultural historian, Daniel Dondurei, has stressed the need for such a Bill. “The importance of morality is an issue that we are very reluctant to discuss openly, even at Presidential level. I’ve never heard any discussion of the causes of teenage suicide rates which are 6-7 times higher than those in Europe. Why is that? What happened to them? There’s always great anguish whenever such incidents occur but never any proper discussion of the reasons behind them”, Dondurei added.

Another Council member, Sergey Tsyplenkov, referred to adverse environmental impacts caused by a major fire on the shores of Lake Baikal earlier this year and has also put forward some well-argued recommendations aimed at preventing future incidents of this kind. In his view, efforts to deal with this disaster were hampered by inaccurate information on the extent and rate with which the fire spread, resulting in wrong decisions being made. “A state of emergency at Lake Baikal should have been declared 16 days earlier. The current system for preventing and managing extreme events, particularly natural fires, is not fit for purpose”, Tsyplenkov added.

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