Ombudsman reports on state of human rights in Russia

Tatyana Moskalkova has presented Vladimir Putin with her latest report on the state of human rights in the Russian Federation




Article published on the ASI website


On 10 June, the Russian President met Tatyana Moskalkova, the Federation’s Human Rights Ombudsman, during which Putin was presented with her latest annual report on the work of the Commissioner’s office.


Work of the office


Moskalkova explained that 52% of Russians believe their rights are being respected, compared to 32% ten years ago. The number of those who say their rights have been violated has also gone down from 63% to 36%, according to data from the Public Opinion Foundation. She said that the performance of her office had improved three-fold over the past two years.


“These results are a true reflection of the steadfast and dedicated work of all State bodies in discharging their constitutional duty of safeguarding individual human rights and freedoms”, said Moskalkova. She said that her office has helped 17,000 citizens, or 87,000 when collective petitions submitted by the public are taken into account.  The Commissioner attributes the number of appeals received to growing confidence in the work of her office.


Today, the post of Human Rights Ombudsman has been established in all Russian Federation regions, apart from Zaporizhye.


Freedom of human rights


It states in the report that the Commissioner’s office has made sure that Russian citizens have received  delayed wages, helped people move out of emergency housing and assisted with their claims for child support and other benefits. Moskalkova gave one example: She was approached by a woman who for ten years had been unable to get a flat to which she was entitled as an orphan. The involvement of the Commissioner’s office in the case ensured that, as well as being allocated an apartment, the woman also received financial compensation for the emotional distress she had suffered.


The office has also been focusing attention on the situation of people living in rural areas. In particular, the Ombudsman has asked the State Duma to pass legislation as soon as possible to allow rural hospitals to sell medication which would avoid residents in more remote regions having to travel to city pharmacies.


The report also contains separate sections on protecting the rights of people with disabilities and those of pensioners.



Human rights in detention


The Ombudsman’s office receives most petitions from those who have experienced human rights violations in legal cases, with complaints about the inadequacy of investigations and refusals to initiate criminal proceedings.


The issue of being remanded in custody and its justification as a restraining measure remains a live one. “There have been cases in which investigators have requested house arrest with the court ruling in favour of detention as a preventive measure. I am particularly concerned when women (and those with children) who have been accused of non-violent offences are taken into custody. The courts will have their say but there are other punitive options that can be considered prior to the start of any trial”, she said.


Moskalkova also stated that the prison system in Russia needed additional financial investment. Although some penal colonies have already been refurbished there are still some that require further funding. Putin agreed, stating that “people should be held in decent and humane conditions”.





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