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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

05/23/1998

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Human Rights Defender Criticized

The State Duma chose a Communist proponent of the death penalty as human rights commissioner Friday, drawing protests from liberal deputies who said the new appointee, Duma Deputy Oleg Mironov, would use the post to push party interests. The ombudsmanlike post, vacant for three years, served as an important public platform for its previous occupant, former dissident Sergei Kovalyov, who used it to agitate against human rights abuses and campaign tirelessly against the war in Chechnya. But liberal deputies and human rights activists said they feared Mironov, 58, would take a selective view of what constituted human rights in order to put his party in the best light. They said he would focus on the government's failure to pay wages and social benefits while ignoring other basic rights like free speech and freedom of conscience.

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