Kremlin human rights body bound to be less critical of govt

The new composition of the Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, a 39-member Kremlin consultative body, as approved by President Vladimir Putin "significantly devalues the presence of critics of the government" the council, an analyst said on Monday.

"If one looks at who has been included in the council, one can say that a system of counterbalances has been created that significantly devalues the presence of critics of the government in the Human Rights Council, though initially the council was meant to be a special body in which the majority would represent the views of the opposition and be able to state the consolidated opinion of the opposition. I believe that now the council will play a significantly weaker role," Alexei Makarkin, vice president of the Political Technology Center, told Interfax.

"Very different figures have been included in the Human Rights Council. For example, [Leonid] Parfyonov will be balanced by Maxim Shevchenko. If Lilia Shibanova defends some position or another, she will immediately be opposed by Igor Borisov," Makarkin said.

"I don't think that the participation of well-known journalists in the council means any additional opportunity for the media," he said.

Moreover, the council's composition conceals a potential for conflict, he argued.

"I can't exclude the possibility that there will be conflicts between members of the council. Different members of the council have different priorities on some human rights issues. For some, it is an indisputable truth, which one must stick to in any event. For others, the human rights issue is much less important than other issues, for example that of public stability. I don't believe that members of the council would be able to reach agreement on those issues," he said.

The presidential decree approving the council's new composition is posted on the Kremlin's Web site,

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