Underdevelopment of basic democratic institutions and corruption are prohibiting the growth of civil society in Russia, the Russian presidential human rights council chief said on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, there have not been qualitative changes in the sphere of civil rights and liberties. I see two major systematic defects holding us back. One is the underdevelopment of our basic democratic institutions," Ella Pamfilova said at the EU Human Rights conference in Moscow.
She noted the pitiable state of Russia's legal system and the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists.
"The independence of the courts is still a long way away from how it should be. Other matters of concern are free elections and political competition. Whether we want it or not, we will have to return to elections for all levels [of government]," she said,
Pamfilova also complained that many Russian politicians neglect those who vote for them in favor of political leaders.
"The political parties are cut off from people now. That is the main flaw," she said.
Yet another hindrance to the development of civil society in Russia, she said, is widespread corruption in all areas.
Geoffrey Harris, head of the Human Rights Unit of the European Parliament, who attended the conference, said Russia's main problem is the violation of the legal system. He called for more humane conditions in prisons.
He also said that the EU condemns the arrests of protesters during anti-government demonstrations, saying the right to freedom of assembly and speech could not flourish without recognition of the role of opposition.
Harris also proposed to set up an independent Russia-EU forum to deal with the development of civil society in Russia.
MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti)