Russian president Boris Yeltsin has signed into law a bill instituting the post of human rights commissioner for the Russian Federation. The Duma now has 30 days in which to elect a candidate. (Itar-Tass, February 26) Russia has been without a human rights commissioner since 1995, when parliament dismissed the first person to hold that post, Sergei Kovalev, after he criticized Russia’s military intervention in Chechnya. A year later, Kovalev resigned from the parallel post of human rights commissioner to the Russian president in protest against continuing human rights violations in Chechnya. Yeltsin replaced Kovalev with Vladimir Kartashin. Now Kovalev is being mentioned as a possible candidate for the new post, as is a respected opposition lawyer, Vladimir Isakov. An innovation in the new law is that it calls for the creation of human rights commissioners at the regional level.
Controversy Surrounds Yeltsin’s Move to Abolish Death Penalty.