13 January 2021
More than 100 public and cultural figures have signed an open letter to Russian leaders, seeking to solve the problems faced by victims of Soviet repression.
As Mikhail Fedotov, one of the signatories and former chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, said on air on Ekho Moskvy radio station, the proposed bill would provide Gulag prisoners with social housing to compensate for apartments illegally seized by the state.
“I have been working on this problem for many years, and the issue of the ‘Children of the Gulag’ still concerns me. I was among those who developed the idea of a public policy to memorialise the memory of victims of political repression, and at the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights we worked on implementing this idea. An important condition of this concept was the restoration of the rights of those who have suffered from political repression. For this reason, we supported the ‘Children of the Gulag’ appeal to the Constitutional Court,” he said.
According to Fedotov, the government had previously taken a purely formal approach to this issue.
“We were delighted when the Constitutional Court upheld the position of the applicants. In accordance with the Constitutional Court’s decision, changes have to be made to current legislation. We were very pleased when the government draft law was prepared. But when we read through it, we saw that it doesn’t solve the problem in practice, only appearing to provide a solution to the problem. We absolutely support the alternative prepared by Galina Khovanskaya,” he stressed.
Fedotov called for support to the amendments prepared by Duma deputy Khovanskaya in the second reading at the State Duma. He noted, in particular, that the family of State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin had suffered repression, so he should personally be interested in a real solution to this problem.
“Now that the draft law has gone to a second reading, we know that there are amendments by Khovanskaya, and in our letter we urge them to support these amendments. We ask the government, the President and State Duma leadership for their support.
Especially since Volodin has been dealing with this problem for a long time, as there were victims of repression in his family. I really hope that he will support these amendments and that they will be adopted in the second reading,” concluded Fedotov.
The letter was published on the Kommersant newspaper’s website. The letter has been signed by 110 people including Natalia Solzhenitsyn, the head of a foundation assisting victims of persecution, writer Liudmila Ulitskaya, film director Aleksander Sokurov, musician Andrei Makarevich, lawyer and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group Genri Reznik, journalists Zoya Svetova, Leonid Parfenov, Kirill Martynov and Dmitry Muratov; historian Nikolai Svanidze; co-founder of the Help Needed foundation Mitya Aleshkovskiy; founder of the Vera Foundation Niuta Federmesser, political scientist Ekaterina Shulman; Igor Kalyapin, chair of the Committee Against Torture; Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Centre; Andrei Babushkin, chair of the Committee for Civil Rights; Elena Lukyanova, Doctor of Law, and other public and cultural figures.
Translated by Verity Hemp