Ombudsman concerned about rights violations in regional Russia

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – March 28, 2013) Russia’s rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin presented a report on the observation of human rights in Russia in 2012 to President Vladimir Putin, the Interfax news agency reported on 28 March. He highlighted that not enough attention was paid to rights issues in some regions and expressed concern about pressure on regional ombudsmen.

Lukin said that in 2012, rights ombudsmen around the country had received around 50,000 complaints, around 35,000 of them from individuals. Lukin lamented that “not enough attention is paid to our views in connection with people’s complaints” in the regions. “We have long since held the view that perhaps we should send reports to governors and through your administration, you could simply advise governors to respond to those complaints that directly relate to their regions,” Lukin suggested.

Putin said he “fully agreed”. “I hope that governors will hear us after today’s meeting and we will send the respective signals at the corresponding meeting,” he was quoted as saying.

A later Interfax report quoted Lukin’s remarks on the preserving the independence of regional ombudsmen. “I think that the independence of rights ombudsmen is very important. Every region needs these people to work in earnest, whereas if they are just screws in the administration, what do we need ombudsmen for?” Lukin said.

To this end, he shared his concerns about a number of regions “constantly adopting amendments to laws which make firing ombudsmen easier”. “I would ask you and the administration to pay attention to this,” Lukin was quoted as saying.