#15 - JRL 7249
July 15, 2003
THEY JUST MIGHT TELL THE TRUTH
Human rights activists will update the UN on democracy in Russia
Author: Kirill Vasilenko
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ACCORDING TO LYUDMILA ALEXEEVA OF THE MOSCOW HELSINKI GROUP, NON- GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS RATHER THAN OFFICIAL DIPLOMATS WILL REPORT TO THE UN ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN RUSSIA. THE FOREIGN MINISTRY HAS ASKED FOR A POSTPONEMENT OF ITS OFFICIAL REPORT.
According to Lyudmila Alexeeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, non- government organizations rather than Russian diplomats will make a report to the UN on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation. The Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry (structures responsible for the official report) have asked the UN to postpone the report until the next meeting of its Human Rights Committee.
Human rights groups are convinced that the postponement of the official report will damage Russia's image. Alexeeva says: "Our ministries and departments have shown the whole world their attitude towards human rights issues and Russia's international obligations in this respect." Besides, the report to the UN will be delivered anyway - by Russian non-government and human rights organizations instead of diplomats. It is common knowledge that human rights groups are considerably more critical than experts in the employ of the Justice Ministry.
Alexeeva: This is something unprecedented. Referring to "domestic reasons", the Foreign Ministry of Russia asked for postponement three days before the scheduled briefing on the human rights situation. Sure, there have been such incidents before in UN history, but countries like Russia have not requested such postponements, and certainly not permanent members of the UN Security Council. Nations like Burma and Uzbekistan have done so, and even they approached the UN with their request two months before the scheduled day. Russia is already late with its report, even without the postponement it is asking for.
The Foreign Ministry of Russia refuses to comment on human rights groups' intentions. If the position of Alexeeva and other activists on urgent problems (like the matter of Chechnya) differs from the official point of view too greatly, their report may be described as another ploy by Russia's antagonists.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)