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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rights Leader Says Putin's Administration Interferes




National human rights commissioner Oleg Mironov has lashed out at the presidential administration, saying it has cut him off from President Vladimir Putin.


Despite repeated attempts to meet with the president, Mironov has not been able to meet with Putin "for a very long time," he told Vremya MN newspaper in an interview published Wednesday.


"Nothing works. We have written letters, I have addressed [Putin] on television, but I have not received any answers," Vremya MN quoted Mironov as saying.


"Apparently, our petitions simply don't reach Putin. They are blocked by the [presidential] administration," he added. "I find it very strange, because when the president cannot find the time to meet with his commissioner, his prestige and the prestige of the country suffer."


Mironov, elected to the post in 1998, became critical of the federal government in late February. Mironov had been far less critical of the Kremlin than his predecessor, Sergei Kovalyov, until Putin more or less squeezed him from the Chechnya beat by appointing Vladimir Kalamanov as special presidential human rights envoy to the war-devastated region.


Ev en so, in his interview to Vremya MN, Mironov said that he "cannot afford to quarrel with all federal bureaucrats. In such a situation it would be very difficult for me to work, to help people who lodge complaints.


"I see ... all federal bureaucrats as my allies."


Vremya Novostei - a separate paper to Vremya MN - also published an interview with Mironov on Wednesday.


The ombudsman told Vremya Novostei that "the commissioner cannot be in constant confrontation with all branches of power."


There was "no tension" between him and Kalamanov - even though "a special presidential commissioner is not ... independent from the government," Mironov added.


A Communist Party member, Mironov was appointed ombudsman for human rights by the State Duma in 1998.


His appointment to the five-year post was at the time viewed as part of a deal to divide up several key posts among the major Duma parties.


The ombudsman's powers are limited to filing suits regarding violations of human rights by government agencies, requesting that authorities open a criminal investigation or asking a court to review a previous decision. The ombudsman has no right to introduce legislation.


Mironov's conduct has been strikingly different from that of his predecessor, Kovalyov - a well-known human rights activist and Duma deputy who harshly criticized the first Chechen war.


Working together with the Memorial advocacy group, Kovalyov exposed the dreadful conditions in federal detention centers in Chechnya - including the regular use of torture - and ethnic cleansing raids carried out by the paramilitary police.


When Shamil Basayev's militants stormed the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk, Kovalyov offered himself as a hostage.