Editorial: don't trust, don't fear, ask!
2.05.12 23:55 By Gazeta.ru editorial
Members of the Presidential council on human rights probably supposed that after an invitation to collaborate with the authorities, they could soften their morals and make it respect the law a little bit more. But only the power can decide if it will punish or pardon, will it act by the law or rule arbitrary.
Russia needs to prolong its modernization course, just to prove it once followed it. "Our council is supported by those parts of society which think that our country needs to be modernized. The country must not fall into stagnation, it mustn't remain so archaic in terms of social structure or state machine construction," said Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of the Presidential council on human rights. Meanwhile, several of his colleagues in the council are not going to collaborate with the government in helping to modernize the country. The first to leave Fedotov was the director of Transparency International Russia, Elena Panfilova, who was preparing a report on the fight with the corruption as part of her work in the council. True, it would be naïve to consider that this fight, despite all the anti-corruption rhetoric of President Medvedev and even the adoption of a national anticorruption plan, now almost forgotten, has brought any result. There's more corruption in Russia now, not less, on all the steps of the state stairway.
The next to leave the council were political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin and the chairman of the refugees help organization "Grazhdanskoye Sodeistviye", Svetlana Gannushjina. Both explained their decision to 'Vedomosti daily' by the unfairness of the presidential election. Oreshkin's report on voters' rights violations was to be read on the farewell meeting of council members with the President on April 28. But the presidential administration removed this point from the agenda, citing the president's busy schedule. Oreshkin was going to tell the president about the false vote growth during the last electoral cycle and Vladimir Putin's excessive results.
Approximately ten members of the council are considering resignation, although it's unclear if it remains to work at all with our future president Putin: this is for the president-elect to decide.
It's senseless for human rights activists to take offense at the administration's actions. There were almost no cases of fruitful collaboration between civic society and the government in Russian history. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't have defended the wrongly condemned. Physicist Petr Kapitsa, with help of the public, could save Lev Landau from Stalin's prison, and Stalin, less than any other Russian leader, was keen to listen to someone else's demands. On the other hand Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, pardoned a lot of people, many times more than Putin and Medvedev. But it was not because of human rights activities, but because of Yeltsin's own ideas of good, evil, and political expedience.
If the human rights activist appeal to the government or even go to work in a government-created organization, they first must get rid of their illusions or built up expectations. The old prison rule: "don't trust, don't fear, don't ask" is transformed when applied to civic society and authoritarian power.
All those who are ready to collaborate with the government sincerely
In the end, even the consent for the public expertise in the Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky cases, even Sergei Mokhnatkin's pardon
Maybe, other than to clear their conscience, the only sense in the human rights activists' collaboration with current authorities is to make them stop thinking that everyone silently agrees with the authorities, and they can do anything without any oversight. In this case, words become deeds. It's necessary, though, not to overestimate their value.
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