Convicted extremists cannot be civil servants – Medvedev

Those convicted for extremism should be banned from the civil service, President Dmitry Medvedev stated during a session of the Human Rights Council in Nalchik in the North Caucasus.

­“In the field of interethnic relations, we should apply a manifold approach. And a major issue here is adopting legislation to prevent persons found guilty of extremism from taking positions in the civil service,” the president said while opening the meeting.

He went on to say that discrimination based on ethnicity cannot be tolerated, adding that the problem exists all across Russia, not only in the Caucasus. However, it is no accident that Medvedev chose this region to discuss the role of civil society in maintaining interethnic accord and fighting extremism.
This is the second meeting of the Human Rights Council this year. The first one took place in January in Yekaterinburg and was devoted to children’s rights.

 Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, spoke after the president and said that the body was successfully performing its duties, though he also asked Medvedev to make amendments to Russian legislation that would give more power to Human Rights activists. 

Fedotov promised to present a preliminary report on Sergey Magnitsky’s case and said that the conclusions made by the Human Rights Council basically corresponded with those made earlier by other agencies, above all, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office. He also said that the work on Magnitsky’s case has already brought tangible results – amendments were made to the Russian Criminal Code and these amendments have been generally effective.  

At the same time, the official urged the Russian president to order the approval of the Law on Civil Control in Russia, as it would allow rights activists to work with greater efficiency.

“We have already developed a concept of the federal law on public or civil control. It is yet another issue of our internal discussions, but we hold that such a law could become a compositional nucleus for the new branch of Russian legislation – civil control legislation,” the official said.

He said that the new law could unify the law on Public Chamber, the law on Public Monitoring Commissions in the Federal System for the Execution of Punishments and the laws on public councils within the Interior Ministry and federal bodies of executive power.

Fedotov said that they planned to lay several principles as the basis for the new law – the independence of the organizations that take part in public control with transparency being the overriding characteristic of their actions.  The official said that these principles would prevent the creation of the so called “pocket” civil society – organizations totally controlled by local authorities and thus posing no real threat to them. 

“If you give your OK to that, we will present the draft of such a federal law by year’s end,” Fedotov told the president.

The head of the council also informed the president that they have prepared an expert opinion for the Law on Police concerning its anti-corruption provisions.

In his report, Mikhail Fedotov said the Human Rights Council is now examining legal issues related to the “second Yukos case”. 

“The work is still underway but we expect to have an expert opinion in the autumn,” the official observed, while stressing that it “has already provided important results.”