Lyudmila Alekseyeva was a consistent member of the Human Rights Council.
Denis Davydov with the details on its most recent meeting.
Lyudmila Alekseyeva was missed at today's meeting in the Kremlin. She worked in the Presidential Council until her last day.
Vladimir Putin: “She fought for justice as her conscience dictated. She did a lot to make the council an authoritative body and did a lot for the country. I ask you to honor her memory with a minute of silence.”
She emigrated but returned to Russia in the early 90s. She witnessed the establishment of the Russian civic society and helped form the protest culture.
Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Council: "Ms. Alekseyeva was once arrested on December 31st, 2009 during the unapproved rally on Triumfalnaya Square. Next year, on October 31st she managed to reach a compromise with the Moscow Mayor's Office and got it to approve the next similar rally on the same square."
The Chairman of the Council proposed that the president continue to work on the law that governs rallies and demonstrations.
Vladimir Putin: "Why not? We just need to contemplate and make a carefully weighed decision. But you said that Ms. Alekseyeva was arrested and added that she knew how to reach a compromise".
- She did.
You see? That means that it's possible to reach a compromise without changing the law if one truly wishes to reach it. Still, it's possible to consider some amendments to the law. Why not?”
Speaking of another detainee, human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov has been jailed for 25 days for encouraging the start an unapproved rally.
Nikolay Svanidze, member of the Council: "Lev Ponomaryov isn't a hooligan, he's a doctor of physics and mathematics. He's a principled opponent of violence and a pacifist. He's 77 years old. His reputation is as clean as a freshly wiped glass. I'm asking you, esteemed Mr. Putin to order the Federal Prosecutor to check the legitimacy of Ponomaryov's arrest".
Vladimir Putin: “I'll ask Yuri Chaika to check this case. At the same time, questioning the fairness of the court's verdict in this very conversation is a hard thing for me to do, basically impossible. The court made a decision, then, there was a second one. Of course, I expected this question to arise. It goes without saying. It's a special council, and the people here are special. It would've been odd if these questions had been omitted. But in the incident report that I read that he was calling for unapproved protests, rallies, and so on. However, we don't want Moscow to become the next Paris, do we?
- We don't.
"The Parisian protesters are smashing the pavement and burning everything that they see. You see? They're plunging the country into a state of emergency".
The Human Rights Council is concerned about the situations of Russians abroad. In order to help them, the council addresses similar foreign organizations. The American rights activists refused to cooperate.
Vladimir Putin: "Your American colleagues are disciplined people integrated into the system. You must clearly understand that. The same applies to almost every sphere in the life of the government and society. There are people there who defy the system. However, they're also integrated into the system. Even if they're not civil servants. Nothing unexpected ever happens there, I assure you. Even the recent neverending turmoil concerning the president and his decisions is actually a part of the system as well. It's just that the system has cracks in it. But you're free to engage in dialogue with them. I believe being always open for dialogue would be enough. What's there to talk about? I don't want to go into detail but their police shoot unarmed people, including women for no reason. Even if she jumps out of her car and runs away after speeding up is that a reason to kill her? But their police do. They shoot to kill. And get away with it".
Putin specifically discussed the situation of one Russian citizen held in an American jail. Maria Butina was arrested in the States for espionage.
Vladimir Putin: "That poor girl Butina is in jail, she might face up to 15 years in prison. For what? When I heard about her situation... This is a public event but I've got nothing to hide. I questioned all of the commanders of our intelligence services. Who is she? Nobody knows anything about her. Somebody from the Federation Council knew her. She used to work for some deputy senator. That's it. And for that, she's getting 15 years in prison? What's that about? I don't know what they might come up with to justify this 15-year sentence".
The discussion turned to the foreigners serving their sentences in Russia. A proposal is voiced: Instead of imprisoning them, we could just deport them. That is supposed to reduce prison overcrowding.
Vladimir Putin: "That would put the Russian citizens and foreigners on two different levels. After committing two similar crimes, a Russian citizen would end up behind bars while a foreigner would just go home. Does that sound like a punishment? That's first. Secondly... See, Mr. Myslovsky confirms that. Okay, secondly we have a visa-free regime with the majority of CIS countries. If we deport a criminal they can take the next flight and go to another Russian city and roam it freely. That's it, the punishment is over".
The president liked the idea of appointing child rights commissioners and financial ombudsmen in every region to provide assistance on the spot, without waiting for a decision from Moscow.
Denis Davydov, Alexandra Terpugova, and Yuri Gonchar Vesti.