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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Human Rights Official Attacks UES

Human rights commissioner Oleg Mironov has appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office to "check out the legality of cutting off electricity to citizens who pay for it," Interfax reported Monday.

Mironov, the people’s ombudsman, is unhappy with the steps taken by national power grid Unified Energy Systems in response to a protest letter he sent Oct. 31. Mironov said in that letter that when UES cuts off power to debtors, it violates the constitutional rights of citizens and punishes all the organizations and people that are hooked into the same section of the energy system.

In response, UES board member Andrei Trapeznikov said that any "constitutional violations" aren’t the fault of UES, but the fault of paying agents, who mediate between various UES subsidiaries and its consumers.

Interfax quoted Mironov as saying that often an entire apartment building is starved of electricity because a single company located in the building fails to pay its bill.

"The Constitution says that the Russian Federation is a social state. A state where old women, men and children do not have light or heat, where maternity hospitals, kindergartens and schools have their power cut off, cannot be named ‘social’," said Mironov.

UES spokesperson Yury Melikhov said Monday that UES agrees with Mironov about the power cuts, but he was appealing to the "wrong addressee."

UES only supplies energy to its subsidiaries in the regions, Melikhov said, putting the blame for power cuts on UES’ regional subsidiaries, which are responsible for distributing the energy.

The nation’s electric grid was only designed to distribute energy, not to sell it.

As a result, there is no way to cut off a single user for nonpayment without cutting off everyone else on the same grid section.

Analysts said Monday that Mironov’s protests are largely symbolic and were unlikely to change anything at UES.

"We do not take seriously the appeal of Mironov — it does not offer any threat to UES," said United Financial Group’s Mikhail Seleznyov.