Podcast No. 53. Simon & Sergei – with Sergei Belyaev

This week our guest is Sergei Ivanovich Belyaev, president of the Ekaterinburg human rights organisation, Sutyazhnik. Sutyazhnik, one of the most important human rights organisations in the Urals Federal District, was founded in 1994. Sergei Belyaev became president of the organisation in 2002.

The questions we discuss in this podcast include: the history and work of the human rights organization Sutyazhnik; the legislation on so-called “foreign agents”; civil society in Ekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk region; the role of the human rights ombudsperson in Sverdlovsk region; the activities of the Yeltsin Centre; and the future of human rights in Russia.

This podcast is in the Russian language. You can listen to it 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.

Sergei Nikitin writes on FacebookEkaterinburg is the third most populous city in Russia. Besides that, the city is known for the remarkable human rights activists who live and work there. Among them is Sergei Belyaev, president of the human rights organisation Sutyazhnik. In our podcast Sergei talks about how the authorities put obstacles in their way from the very beginning. During their first attempt to register an association in Ekaterinburg back in 1994, the request of the human rights activists was turned down on the grounds that the authorities did not like the name. Although dictionaries explain that a Sutyazhnik is someone who is ready to sue for any reason, the negative connotation of the word is far-fetched. The activists filed a lawsuit against the denial of registration for Sutyazhnik and the registration authority quickly relented without waiting for a trial. “What’s wrong with the name? Someone likes to settle disputes in court,” says Sergei Belyaev, “He likes to do that, he takes pleasure in it.” And in fact – there’s nothing wrong with that! A lot has changed since 1994 in the country and in Ekaterinburg. But Sutyazhnik, which was branded a foreign agent in 2015, still lives and works.

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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