Lyudmila Alekseeva: these laws were adopted to stifle civil society

Людмила Алексеева попросила Путина взять под личный контроль фонд Доктора Лизы – Россия 24

Lyudmila Alekseeva: these laws were adopted to stifle civil society

Lyudmila Alekseeva: these laws were adopted to stifle civil society

Chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group on the latest initiatives of the State Duma

MOSCOW – 
The situation with rights and freedoms in Russia has recently deteriorated significantly, says Lyudmila Alekseeva, chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG). She stated this on Wednesday, January 16 in an exclusive interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America, commenting on the annual report Freedom in the World-2013, distributed on the eve of the American human rights organization Freedom House.

The head of the MHG explains the situation in the country by the adoption of a number of laws approved by the State Duma and signed by President Putin. True, according to Lyudmila Alekseeva, these laws are not yet in full force..

Victor Vasiliev: Lyudmila Mikhailovna, how objective do you think Freedom House’s conclusion regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia is??

Lyudmila Alekseeva: This is true. The situation in the country has deteriorated sharply. The new Duma, about the objectivity of the elections of which there were such stormy protests (we believe that the majority of United Russia in the Duma was acquired as a result of machinations), with the coming to power of Putin and, apparently, with his submission, at least with the consent of his administration, since he signed all the laws, issued a whole heap of laws. And practically all of them severely restrict our civil and social rights very seriously..

For the time being, most of these laws (since they were recently adopted) have not yet made us feel fully how they will affect our lives. But they were created not just to reduce civic activity in Russia, but to stifle civil society and any public activity of citizens.

Lyudmila Alekseeva, human rights activist, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group

For the time being, most of these laws (since they were recently adopted) have not yet made us feel fully how they will affect our lives. But they were created not just to reduce civic activity in Russia, but to stifle civil society and any public activity of citizens..

Lyudmila Alekseeva: these laws were adopted to stifle civil society

V.V.: A hopeless picture.

L.A..: Society resists this. Under the law on non-profit organizations that received grants from abroad, they (NPOs) were required to register as foreign agents. This registration expired on November 20. All over the country, as far as I know, one organization from Mari El has registered. Because we do not consider ourselves foreign agents. I have been engaged in human rights work for almost half a century since the days of Soviet rule. In my opinion, this is the first time that we have shown civil disobedience to the law, being convinced that it is unconstitutional, violates all our social and international treaties on human rights. And in general, it contradicts all norms of law and even common sense..

The same can be said for rally and homophobia laws. The latter (law – V.V.), however, is adopted by regional legislative assemblies). This is also true of most other laws. Both the law that impedes freedom on the Internet, and the law on state secrets, according to which any person who communicates with a foreigner (well, like me now, speaking with a Russian, but from the Voice of America) can be declared a person who has harmed the interests of Russia , and prosecute. So: so far no one obeys these laws.

V.V.: You are now talking about what primarily affects human rights defenders.

L.A..: There are laws that apply to literally all citizens. First, the rules for motorists are being tightened up. Fines are skyrocketing, which cannot be compared with our salaries. Or here is the latest bill that has not yet been adopted by the Duma, but since it was introduced personally by President Putin, it will most likely be approved with the support of United Russia. This is a bill that makes the rules of living without registration intimidating and returns us to the days of Soviet registration, and with much heavier penalties for violating them – in the sense of huge fines. It even provides for criminal liability in certain cases. This applies to literally all citizens of Russia – because, say, if a person cannot find work in his city and wants to move to another, then he will face very big problems. This will affect the mobility of our population and the state of the economy..

V.V.: What, in your opinion, are the reasons for the latest legislative initiatives and what they can lead to?

L.A..: All (mentioned) laws are passed without regard to their economic and political consequences. The main and only task in this case is to humiliate civil society, to return all power to officials. There are also draft laws that are now being discussed and, obviously, will be adopted by United Russia, because everything is adopted (in the State Duma) that diminishes our rights. I am referring to the bill on the abolition of public hearings in cities regarding the construction, re-profiling of parks, woodlands, and so on. So that citizens do not have the right to vote here too. Even single pickets have already been banned in Moscow, which, according to our very strict law on rallies, were previously allowed without notice. I can list endlessly. Not to mention the law prohibiting the adoption of Russian orphans by American citizens, which is popularly called the “law of scoundrels”.

Lyudmila Alekseeva: these laws were adopted to stifle civil society

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