Podcast No. 67: Simon & Sergei – with Anita Soboleva

This week our guest on the podcast is Anita Soboleva, lawyer, legal expert, lecturer, researcher and associate professor. Anita formerly worked as chief lawyer at the NGO JURIX (Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms). She has been a member of the Moscow region bar association since 2002. Until November 2019 Anita served two tersms as a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights.

The questions discussed in the podcast include: the state of the Third Sector in Russia; the impact of the laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable foreign organisations”; the current judicial system; the independence of the courts; judicial reforms; the impact of Soviet traditions on the justice sytem; the significance of last year’s constitutional changes and of the changes introduced to the Constitutional Court; and the future of human rights in Russia.

The podcast is in Russian. You can listen to it in full here:

You can also listen to the podcast on Podcasts.com,  SoundCloud,  Spotify  and  iTunes

The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.

Given the length of the podcast, we have also divided it into three parts that you can listen to separately.

Part One. Civil society, NGOs and the impact of ‘foreign agent’ legislation:

Part Two. The legal system; the rule of law; constitutional reform; the consitutional court:

Part Three. The future:

Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “Last weekend, Simon Cosgrove and I spoke with Anita Karlovna Soboleva, a lawyer, teacher and researcher working in the field of law. We talked, of course, about human rights work. Anita Soboleva compared human rights defenders of the end of the last century with those of today: “Nowadays, human rights work is done by people with a legal education, by specialists. These people are the best, they are highly motivated: There has been a professionalization of the nonprofit sector. This is what we dreamed of 20 years ago.” Understandably, when discussing human rights work, we also touched on the topic of today’s civil society in Russia and the prospects for some kind of reform in the country. “Civil society is not just about organisations we like very much. After all, civil society also includes nationalists and organisations set up by former members of the security forces. They are also part of society. Society is fragmented. Therefore, some part of society may be ready for some reforms, while another part may be ready for quite different reforms,” Anita Karlovna rightly pointed out. In her personal experience the critical thinking of today’s students is very developed and very different from what we would have seen in universities 15 years ago. But it’s not all that simple: “The well-known fragmentation of education can’t help but be alarming, when suddenly universities appear under specific ministries and start to train specialists for individual state bodies”. It was important for us to talk to a highly professional lawyer, and it was sad to hear again about what is now happening to the legal system in the country, where ‘the courts can now say that black is white and white is black’. Listen to Anita Soboleva, it’s interesting.”

Simon Cosgrove adds: If you want to listen to this podcast on the podcasts.com website and it doesn’t seem to play, please download by clicking on the three dots to the right. A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.

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