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Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 9, 2004

Lukin Does Not Want to Begin with "Horrors"
Ombudsman and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev reach agreement

By Kira Latukhina

At present about half the complaints (44%) in the address of the Commissioner on Human Rights of the RF refer to violations of civil rights and liberties by interior ministry workers. This was the topic of the meeting of Vladimir Lukin with Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev. In an interview of Ombudsman to Nezavisimaya Gazeta we offer our readers the details of the discussion.

Question: What was the reaction of the Minister to your information about such a huge number of complaints about the actions of the militia?

Lukin: The minister knows no less - and even more than me - that the state of the law and enforcement agencies deserves very serious and critical analysis. And he has his own data on this. At the same time the minister, in my view, was just saying that the law and enforcemet agencies should not be judged on scandalous facts alone. He stressed that last year, as never before, cases on organised crime - over 100 cases - were investigated and transferred to a resultative trial. Of course, there are serious violations, but serious work is being performed and there are highly qualified selfless specialists in the interio. And there are certain results: both negative and positive results. I agree and think that fate and the Constitution arrange this in such a way that we shall first of all focus our attention on drawbacks, but we shall cooperate and propose our variants on how to overcome these drawbacks.

Question: You no doubt gave him examples of the worst cases of violations by the militia?

Lukin: Our discussion was representative and more general in nature. We agreed that five - six representatives of our agencies will meet and we shall speak on definite issues then. In general I came out after the meeting feeling positive. We found very interesting points for cooperation. The new leadership of the interior ministry demonstrated its plans to cooperate with us on a number of problems, including those indicated by us.

Question: Do you think that all that needs to be done is to increase the wages of the militia and they will begin working better?

Lukin: I agree that workers of the interior should be paid a dignified wage. But this is only one of many factors. They should also have self-respect and a legal culture. Then the citizens would look at them differently and follow their example.

Question: As far as we know, you planned to gain access to prisons to see how human rights are observed there. Did you manage to fulfill that desire?

Lukin: I remember that some newspaper even wrote that I had allegedly wanted to get into prison as a prisoner to feel how things are there. This is a big exaggeration: I have not had and don't have plans to get into prison incognito. But I certainly plan to avoid "Potyomkin village" visits (Ed. Fine facades of villages built by Potyomkin demonstrated to the Empress as real villages). I am not a supporter of "Potyomkin villages" which our motherland is famous for, and I don't want to do in such a way that I would demonstrate such a "village" inside every institution, either penitentiary, Internet for the senior citizens, etc. Therefore I am seeking a special scheme of my visits and I think that I shall find it together with my colleagues. The visits should not be immediate and unexpected, but at the same time they should not be only for show. This issue is complicated in Russian conditions, but we shall find the answer.

Question: When can we expect improvements in the observation of human rights in Russia?

Lukin: These are long-term tasks. And I think that our legal developments will get better if our legal conditions get better. And legal notions should change gradually and smoothly. This is what I shall be working for. I have not promised and don't promise any miracles. But I shall steadily work to make our state become more lawful with regards the feelings of our citizens and the relations between our citizens and the law and enforcement agencies from both sides. For our law and enforcement agencies should know and observe human rights, and the citizens should know and observe the rights and obligations of the law ad enforcement agencies. Often they are not observed too. I think that legal education of people - from eighth form in school onwards - is absolutely necessary.


See also:

Human Rights

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 9, 2004

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