PRAGUE, January 13, Caucasus Times – The European parliament awarded on Thursday medals of Robert Shumann to Russian human rights activists, Nataliya Estemirova and Sergei Kovaliev for their tremendous work in Chechnya, the BBC reports
Nataliya Estemirova, journalist and teacher, has been staying in Groznyy even at the time of escalated violence in the republic. As to Mr. Kovaliev, he had been an active member of rights groups during Soviet era and he had had a international reputation.
Yesterday Mr. Kovaliev, Lyudmila Alekseeva, head of Helsinki group, and journalist Anna Politkovskaya were awarded Olof Palme Prize for defending human rights issues 2004.
The human rights organization have published series of reports recently concerning rights issues in Russia, which show that the situation with human rights in the country is getting worse in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia.
The Kremlin officials keep on claiming things are getting better in the republic, while abductions of people are still taking place. Besides, the human rights activists are concerned with recent initiatives of Russian authorities to curb political freedoms, the first authoritative move since the collapse of communism.
According to Human Rights Watch, the law enforcement bodies’ abuses are becoming more and more frequent in Russia, where “large scale tortures in police stations” have been reported regularly as well as escalation of violence in Russian army. Hundreds of draftees die annually in the army as a result of battery and assaults perpetrated by senior servicemen, the so-called “dedovschina.” Russian military officials turn a blind eye to the facts of crimes in the army insisting that young soldiers need to be trained.
Though the authorities acknowledge unofficially that the problem with human rights does exist in the country, they still are very sensitive to critical judgments coming from abroad.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has commented on the watchdogs’ job in the sense that the human rights activists are more ready to discredit the image of Russia, rather than to contribute to the improvement of life in the country.