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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia's First Word on Human Rights

A presidential commission has presented Russia's first official report on human rights in response to public organizations pressing for prompt action by the government to stop violations, officials said Monday.


The 100-page report prepared by President Boris Yeltsin's commission on human rights shows that while freedoms of speech and association are no longer restricted, new types of violations are rapidly developing in Russia.


Refugees are denied official status, workers are not paid their wages appropriately and defendants are held in appalling conditions before trial, Sergei Kovalyov, the former political prisoner who chairs the commission, said at the conference of the Public Chamber Saturday.


The Public Chamber, which was set up by President Boris Yeltsin in February, unites representatives of roughly 250 political parties, trade unions, religious and other non-government organizations, according to one of the leaders of the chamber, Igor Kharichev.


Saturday's session was so impressed by Kovalyov's account that it decided to establish its own commission on human rights to help Kovalyov's official agency collect information in the field, Kharichev said.


The Chamber will also submit its formal recommendations to Yeltsin to finalize and implement the Federal Program of Action on Human Rights designed by Kovalyov's commission.


The draft program includes demands to revise all regulations issued by local authorities and bring them in line with the federal constitution and international human rights standards.


One problem posed by the program is that it contradicts Yeltsin's own anti-crime decree increasing police powers to arrest and hold suspects without presenting formal charges.


As an added measure against possible future violations, the program calls for federal and local government officials to take a general course on human rights.


Lidiya Syomina, an aide to Kovalyov, said the commission will prepare similar reports annually.