Accessibility links

Breaking News

Controversy Over Civil Society Representative Appointment, Human Rights Lawyer Detained

Vladislav Surkov, senior director of Russian Affairs at the National Security Council, 17 Dec 2009
Vladislav Surkov, senior director of Russian Affairs at the National Security Council, 17 Dec 2009
Cause Of Contention: Vladislav Surkov
Of the 13 bilateral working groups created by presidents Obama and Medvedev during the Moscow summit last summer, the Civil Society Working Group has drawn the most attention -- and controversy -- not least because of the appointment of Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration and a chief Kremlin ideologist, to represent the Russian side. Last December, 71 members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter calling upon Obama to suspend U.S. participation in the group until Surkov is replaced. Nevertheless, the commission convened in January with Surkov in place.

In an interview with RFE/RL, congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the letter’s lead signatory, explained her protest. "Why has the [Obama] administration...decided to cooperate with one of the main propagators of limiting freedom of speech in Russia, intimidating Russian journalists and representatives of opposition political parties?"
[read in Russian]

Human Rights Lawyers Detained by Chechen 'Lord'
On February 7, Dmitri Yegoshin, Roman Veretennikov, and Vladislav Sadykov, three human rights lawyers with the so-called composite mobile group, SMG, were detained for 16 hours in the Chechen town of Shali. SMG has operated in Chechnya since November 2009 and investigates murders and kidnappings reported by citizens. Memorial member Aleksandr Cherkasov told RFE/RL that Magomed Daudov, the head of the Shali District Interior Ministry department and known locally as "the Lord," personally oversaw the arrests. The three were due to meet residents of Shali to obtain information about a recent kidnapping.
[read in Russian]

Protest Against Administration's Indifference to Job Losses
On February 6, some 500 residents of the town of Sychevo outside Moscow rallied against the imminent closure of the local factory where approximately half of the local population is employed. RFE/RL reports that factory employees are being offered double their salaries on condition that they sign a declaration of voluntary resignation. The factory has been bought by a company from the PIK group that plans to divide it into two parts for resale. Residents who attended the rally said that protest is the only way they can draw the attention of the local administration and that they may resort to blocking a major road near the town. “I don’t see any action by the local authorities. The governor hasn’t come… In reality no action is being taken,” one said.
[read in Russian]