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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Answers for Worried Ombudsmen

Regional ombudsmen took law enforcement to task Monday for alleged human rights abuses -- and they got no answers.

Ombudsmen told a round table in the office of Russia's top ombudsman Oleg Mironov that citizens' rights are most often violated by the police, prison officials and the courts. But leading law enforcement officials refused to dig into the concerns, offering only curt retorts.

"Meeting Western human rights activists' demands to provide better housing for inmates is a luxury at a time when patients are suffering in unbearable conditions in regular Russian hospitals," said Vyacheslav Ivanov, a high-ranking officer in the Interior Ministry's inspection directorate, parrying a question about jails, where inmates sometimes have to urinate in plastic bottles for lack of toilets. "And we don't have money for it, after all," he added.

Asked about granting Russian citizenship to CIS natives who have lived in Russia a long time but cannot afford to go home to take care of the paperwork, the Interior Ministry's migration service representative Andrei Blagovidov said simply, "The problem must be solved, and we will solve it."

Irina Vershinina, the ombudsman for Kaliningrad, asked Oleg Filimonov of the Justice Ministry's prison directorate about masked riot police raiding prison camps and beating inmates. Filimonov said the last such raid took place in 2000.

"But we have recent complaints from inmates, and one has already been accepted by the European Court of Human Rights," Vershinina insisted.

She appeared to be referring to a complaint of a raid on the Chepets prison camp in the Perm region in April 2001.

Filimonov told her to send him a copy of the complaint.

Supreme Court Judge Valentin Pirozhkov was asked to elaborate about his efforts expedite the trial process. "We are summarizing these data from the regions," he replied. "The duration of the process depends on the judge, and also there are not enough judges in Russia."