Nikolai Svanidze, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Source: Moscow Helsinki Group
Seeing as, unfortunately, it will be difficult for me, for medical reasons, to participate in the current session of the Human Rights Council, I write this here.
As chair of the Standing Commission on Political Rights, I believe that there is a topic or issue which needs to be raised in the meeting with the President.
Our country is conducting a war. Officially it is called a special military operation, but all over the world it is spoken of as a war. Many Russian politicians openly call it war, and at the household level, it is war, and cannot be called otherwise. Martial law has been imposed in a number of regions of the Russian Federation, and simply, when the armies of two countries shoot at one another, this constitutes war since time immemorial.
And the attitude of the citizens of our country toward this war is not as unambiguous as is commonly believed. And this is natural. Because not every war is Great and not every war is Patriotic. From our rich and complex history, we know that there have also been the Crimean War and the Russo-Japanese War, the Polish War of 1920, the Finnish War, and the Afghan War.
There are many Russian citizens for whom the current war does not induce spiritual uplift, but abhorrence. In absolute terms, there are millions of them. It is difficult to suspect them all of receiving money from foreign intelligence services. These citizens want to see Russia as a prosperous and attractive country, and for this very reason truly independent, so far as it is possible for a country not to depend on any others in the modern world.
There is no reason not to consider them patriots of Russia. And so long as the Constitution is not suspended, they have a right to be heard.
At the current moment, they are deprived of such a right. That is, they are bereft of political rights. To use an early Soviet term, they have been ‘disenfranchised’ [lishentsy].
This is the question, the issue, I would like to raise at the meeting with the President.
If circumstances do not permit me to speak, I shall ask one of my colleagues to speak on my behalf.
I ask you to discuss my proposal at the meeting of the Human Rights Council.
Translated by Alyssa Rider