Will the Human Rights Council defend the rights of ethnic minorities?

31 January 2013

Centre for Interethnic Cooperation 

A request made by the leaders of ethnic associations of the regions of Russia to the President to include Ashot Airapetyan, the Director of the Centre for Interethnic Cooperation, in the Human Rights Council, has to all intents and purposes, been rejected. Our readers will recall that the Azerbaijani, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Jewish, German, Ingush, Polish, Lithuanian, Tajik, Uzbek, Tatar, Chechen national organisations of Moscow, the Moscow region, Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Samara, Volgograd , Voronezh, Saratov, Orenburg, Sverdlovsk, Irkutsk, Krasnodar and Stavropol regions and the Republic of Karelia had reminded the Russian President that according to the results of the online vote that was held in October Ashot Airapetyan came fourth out of all the candidates, just one percent behind the runner up, and less than half a percent behind the third placed candidate in the nomination for "the protection of society against aggressive nationalism, xenophobia and extremism". The leaders of the ethnic associations had asked that Airapetyan be included in the Committee for the protection of the rights of ethinic minorities. 

In late December and early January, the leaders of the national associations received a letter from Mikhail Fedotov, the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, stating that the Council had already been formed and that Airapetyan could only participate in the Committee's work as an expert. But it is no secret that Aleksandr Brod, was included in the Council after it had already been formed under a separate decree from Vladimir Putin. Moreover, Brod didn't even take part in the internet poll. In addition, Airapetyan and others who had put themselves up for the online vote had already been asked to become experts on the Council even before the voting had been completed.

Interestingly, at a session of the Human Rights Council in its former composition on November 12, 2012 it was noted that there had been cases of serious manipulation of the results during the internet voting. The rigging was obvious even to an untrained eye. For some reason a very large group of voters voted for a several extremely obscure "human rights activists" that nobody had ever heard of, moreover they had all simultaneously voted for them at the same time late on one Sunday night.

Will these people, who have not previously been noted for their activity in the field of human rights, and who are not averse to falsifying election results, work seriously to protect other people's human rights? Let alone members of our country's ethnic minorities? That is the question.

It's strange that the new Council has created a "Permanent commission for migration policy and the protection of human rights with regards to inter-ethnic relations". In other words they have merged the issues of migration with inter-ethnic relations, which is the sort of thing that the nationalists would usually be behind. But the most amazing thing is that not one of the three winners of the online voting in the nomination for "the protection of society from aggressive nationalism, xenophobia and extremism" wanted to join this commission!

Centre for Inter-ethnic Cooperation