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Russian Court Orders Delay In Replacing Ombudsman

Igor Mikhailov was dismissed last week

Igor Mikhailov was dismissed last week

ST. PETERSBURG -- A Russian federal court has ruled that the naming of a new ombudsman in St. Petersburg should be delayed until a court rules on the dismissal of Igor Mikhailov, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Mikhailov, a United Russia politician who became St. Petersburg's first ombudsman in 2007, was removed from his position by the city council last week for alleged political activity, which is forbidden for ombudsmen under Russian law.

Nine employees from Mikhailov's office ran in regional elections in Leningrad Oblast earlier this month. Mikhailov told RFE/RL that a possible reason for his dismissal might be some of the reforms he proposed.

He said that he might be paying for his efforts to reach an agreement between the opposition and the government on standards for holding protests. Mikhailov added that he also promoted gay and transgender rights.

Russian Federation ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said that according to international standards the ombudsman post is not accountable to the government, should not be subject to dismissal by it, and should not be persecuted for its decisions.

Human rights activists in St. Petersburg welcomed Mikhailov's dismissal as they have been critical of his failure to support the rights of citizens.