In the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, a consultative body that assists the President in exercising his constitutional authority in this area.
Participants in the meeting, held on Human Rights Day, discussed a wide range of issues, pertaining, in particular, to the improvement of the judicial system, support of compatriots abroad, and protection of minors’ rights.
Human Rights Day was established in 1950 by a resolution of the UN General Assembly, two years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
Our meeting is taking place on Human Rights Day, which is widely observed at the initiative of the UN General Assembly.
We had quite a few events today. In the morning there was the opening ceremony at the Human Rights House that brought together human rights ombudsmen from all regions of Russia. I think and I strongly believe, and you will probably agree with me, that they do need our constant support. After all, they are working out there on the ground. Protecting the legitimate interests of people around them is an extremely important endeavour. I think that these efforts can yield tangible results.
Over the past year, the Council, its permanent commissions and working groups, have focused on a number of matters that are relevant to both individuals and society in general. Just as before, the Council has also travelled to other regions to hold visiting meetings there.
The Council now has a new chair, Mr Valery Fadeyev. The rotation of its leadership was a natural process. Mikhail Fedotov served in this position for nine years, longer than any other Council chair. Let me emphasise that he made a major contribution to streamlining the Council’s work.
And this work continues. The public and the media are used to hearing S.P.Ch. [the Russian acronym for Human Rights Council]. However, there is another dimension to the Council’s work that is equally important. I am referring to developing civil society.
I believe that the Council must pay special attention and make additional efforts in this area. I hope that Mr Fadeyev will go to great lengths in his efforts in terms of structuring the Council’s works, its agenda, including by relying on the practices inspired by the Civic Chamber.
In the past three years, a ceremony for presenting the National Awards for achievements in human rights activity and charity work has been timed to coincide with Human Rights Day. It is of great importance to our society, our country and its citizens.
In this connection, I decided to equate the status of the National Awards in these areas with the National Awards for achievements in science, technology, literature and the arts, for achievements in humanitarian work. This applies both to the amount of the award and the awards ceremony itself.
The Executive Order on the 2019 awards was published today. One of the most experienced members of our Council, Maria Bolshakova, won the human rights award.
She has led the public organisation, Union of Russian Military Personnel Families, for 18 years now and, together with other like-minded people, she provides support to families of service personnel who died in the line of duty.
I congratulate you with all my heart. Thank you very much.
The award for achievements in charity work was awarded to Konstantin Khabensky. The foundation he has established helps children with severe brain diseases and is involved in advanced medical training, equipment supplies for hospitals, and so on. The laureate insignia will be presented on June 12.
The Council must take full advantage of its powers and mechanisms and fully utilise the potential of the standing commissions, of which there are 20, including on promoting NPOs, social, environmental, economic and cultural rights, and civil liberties and civic activism.
By the way, I would like to draw your attention to what is happening in sports, and I would also like to ask you for support.
The work of the Council and its commissions should be made completely open, and broad contact should be maintained with the media. Of course, people should know what our Council is doing, what issues it raises, how it interacts with the government and civil society bodies and, importantly, what it achieves.
I believe that it is necessary to cooperate more actively with the Civic Chamber and federal and regional commissioners for human, children's and entrepreneurs’ rights. Joining efforts – especially when it comes to pressing issues posed by the people themselves – will, I think, help speed up their resolution.
We must do our best to make sure that people trust the institutions created specifically to effectively uphold their rights and promote civil society.
Thank you. That is all I wanted to say at the beginning.