Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova: Good afternoon, Mr President.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, let us begin with the results of your work in 2022, right?
Tatyana Moskalkova: Yes, Mr President, in accordance with the Federal Constitutional Law, let me present my annual report on the Human Rights Commissioner’s work and probably for the beginning of the year, given that the trends remain the same.
Last year and this year have witnessed a huge number of evacuees from Donbass and Ukraine who arrived in Russia, fleeing the bombing in Ukraine. The beginning of the inevitable, justifiable special military operation, the unprecedented Russophobic sentiment, the destruction of the previous international human rights institutes – all of this contributed to a growing number of requests.
Lat year, we received 79,000 requests; this year, we have already received 16,000 requests, which is 50 percent more than during the same period last year.
We have tried to completely readjust the work of our office so that we can respond to emergency cases related to the special military operation, mobilisation and work with those evacuated more promptly. We created a 24-hour hotline, a special online reception office so that people could reach us more easily.
We introduced a practice where as soon as we receive a request, we make contact with the applicant and their family, and explain to them what the state is doing to deal with the problem. It is very important for people to know that they have not just sent a request, but concrete measures are being taken.
We have created three special mobile working groups that get in touch with our human rights commissioners in the Russian regions and work on emergency requests. This is a mobile group that works with the families of the participants in the special military operation, servicemen and volunteers. This is a mobile group that works with evacuees and those who were subject to mobilisation. These tools have proven efficient, and we managed to provide assistance and take part in restoring the rights of 13,000 citizens last year, almost 2,000 this year and over 255,000 overall, including collective requests.
Many requests were related to violations of the principles of justice, legitimacy and relevance committed by officials. But there have been many requests that are not related to officials’ violations, but that just ask for humanitarian aid and assistance. This primarily related to our civilians who were illegally and unjustifiably detained on the Ukrainian territory.
We have managed to bring back all long-distance lorry drivers and civilian sailors who were forced to stay aboard nine vessels in Izmail for over nine months, 168 people in all.
As for the evacuees, most often, the requests received related to late lump sum payments. I must say, the state responded to society’s requests more promptly than ever, and a comprehensive social package was developed and then adopted by the State Duma and the Government. But, unfortunately, it was taking too long to finalise documents because only one payment office was created. This situation has been remedied and over 5,000 those evacuated have received such assistance, also thanks to your participation.
As regards all issues related to the special military operation, we immediately established contact with the Ministry of Defence, the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Ministry, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Ukrainian human rights commissioner. It was very important. This synergy has allowed us to free many people from captivity and to establish the location and learn the fate of those missing. There are a lot of them. We constantly receive feedback from their families and the guys who are now in hospital or are already at home.
And, of course, there were still the traditional issues that people turned to us with. Most of our requests were dealt with by prosecutors and supervisory authorities in the field of criminal justice.
Almost half of the overturned illegal decisions were related to unjustified refusals to initiate criminal proceedings. In accordance with Article 52 of the Russian Constitution, every victim has the right of access to justice. If they are denied a criminal case, this means they are deprived of the opportunity to find the criminal and get compensation for harm with the help of the state.
Vladimir Putin: Protect your interests.
Tatyana Moskalkova: That is absolutely right.
Now we want to launch extensive monitoring of this topic: to study the experience of other systems that address these issues and find solutions and proposals for government bodies.
The second place is traditionally held by appeals related to places of detention and institutions of the penitentiary system.
But there are positive developments here. You instructed us last year to speed up the adoption of the Law on Accountability for Torture. This yielded results. This year we have received fewer appeals on this matter, but we have still had a large number of complaints related to the detention conditions: overcrowding in pre-trial detention centres in eight Russian regions, and a lack of the conditions required to ensure proper medical care. Here, we have also managed to help a significant number of people, thanks to the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Penitentiary Service. I must say that the response comes quickly, and it is possible to correct this.
And, of course, social issues. There are still quite a lot of complaints related to the incorrect calculation of pensions, with non-payment to large families, as well as those with disabled children. With the help of the state authorities, we have tried to respond promptly and to restore infringed rights.
I would also like to talk about other areas of our activity, which, in accordance with the Federal Constitutional Law, are mandatory for me. These are international cooperation, legal education, lawmaking, and work with regional commissioners for human rights.
Mr President, I want to note that the regional commissioners are now a single institution, which is involved in the current issues of today: assistance for the families of participants in the special military operation and mobilised persons, and work in temporary accommodation centres for evacuees. We are constantly in touch. Next year we will continue this work with new tools.
This autumn, we will hold a Russian Coordinating Council dedicated to protecting the rights of young people. We invite you, Mr President, to take part in it.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Ms Moskalkova, there are many areas and none of them can be called secondary. You are very active in this work. I would like to thank you and your colleagues who work in the field, work directly with people.
Tatyana Moskalkova: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: We will definitely continue this work and help you achieve the goals for which the institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights was created.
Tatyana Moskalkova: Thank you very much for your support and help.