Moscow, 2 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's top human rights official says that Russia made no progress in improving its human rights record in 2001. The official, Russian Ombudsman Oleg Mironov, said that ordinary people continue to feel helpless when confronted by police, prosecutors, and courts.
Mironov also highlighted social deprivation as a component of human rights. He criticized the practice of cutting off heat and electricity in the winter in regions whose authorities have run up energy debt arrears as a violation of human rights.
Mironov said that there were serious problems in the political sphere of life, and sometimes "elections are not elections at all but an appointment or an attempt to buy a deputy's manadate."
Western human rights organizations usually cite abuses by federal forces in Chechnya and attacks on independent media as the main violations of human rights in Russia.