20 years under Putin: a timeline

OK: What is the Council working on at the moment?

MF: We have several projects in the works. One of them is the Magnitsky case, which we have been focusing on for a number of years. Again, I must clarify here that we look into the circumstances that led to a person’s death in a pre-trial detention center, to make sure that such tragic cases never happen again.



OK: This July, you published a preliminary report of the Council's working group on the Magnitsky case. Since then, have you continued working on the case?

MF: Of course, we do not intend to stop half-way. From our side, we will do everything to fill in all the gaps. Which are still there, by the way. For example, there is no answer to the questions about the beatings. Was a rubber truncheon used? Could Magnitsky die from the brain injuries? We formed a number of research groups to look into these matters, alongside the investigators and prosecutors.

OK: When do you plan on presenting the final report on Magnitsky case?

MF: We will present it when no open questions will remain on this case. We must be certain that everyone involved in Sergei Magnitsky's death is found, incriminated, and punished.

OK: Has anything really changed in the Russian penal system due to the Council's efforts?

MF: The Council offered to make amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code and to the federal law “On detention in custody” to make provisions for the accused to petition for medical examination and to change the measures of their restraint in case their health worsens. The President submitted these amendments to the State Duma, and they were approved. Then a government decree followed where many of these details were spelled out. But the implementation of these humane measures has been delayed due to some bureaucratic formalities. The Council had to interfere to overcome these obstacles. At the moment, we are looking into what prevents people in detention from getting the medical help they need. This work continues.

OK: Overall, would you assess the Council's work as effective?

MF: It is far from being as effective as we would like it to be.

OK: And why is that?

MF: We lack power. Judge for yourself: we only have 40 people in the Council, and they are all volunteers. At the same time we have 15 working groups! According to the President’s decree, we must hold a bimonthly meeting, but earlier this year we convinced the President that we have to hold it once a month. In reality we meet almost every week, often several times a week. We work on a huge number of issues, but we are determined to resolve all of them by the end of May 2012 when our term expires.

O.K: As far as I know, the Council plans to present an expert report on the second YUKOS trial to the President soon. Is there a specific release date?

M.F: The report is finished, and it is in my possession. No one has seen it yet, so we plan to present it at the next meeting of the Council on December 21. On the same day, the report will be published on our website.

O.K: Would you be able to share the main conclusions of the report with us?

MF: Right now I am unable to do that. But please, rest assured that it is a very serious document. The fact that it consists of 427 pages and is broken down into three volumes should give an idea.

OK: Would you say that the contents of this report, whatever they are, may have an impact on the current authorities?

MF: They will [have an impact], without a doubt. Not least because the report will be published, and that will make it impossible to ignore its contents. In the end, none of us wants to serve as mere decoration on the lapel of the authorities. Like I said, we are going to finish what we started.