HRO.org in English: about Rights in Russia

Simon CosgroveThe initiator of the project and editor of the new website is Simon Cosgrove, a historian by education and an expert on human rights in Russia, who has worked in the Moscow offices of the European Commission and the MacArthur Foundation, and also for Amnesty International in London.

 

 

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A new English language Internet project, Rights in Russia, has started: http://www.rightsinrussia.info/

The initiator of the project and editor of the new website is Simon Cosgrove, a historian by education and an expert on human rights in Russia, who has worked in the Moscow offices of the European Commission and the MacArthur Foundation, and also for Amnesty International in London.

HRO.org put some questions about the new project to Simon Cosgrove.

– Simon, what brought you to set up Rights in Russia?

On the one hand, it was simply a personal wish – as yet far from being realized! – to gather together in one place as much information about human rights in Russia in the English language as possible. Or at least links to as many sources of information as possible. J

On the other hand – and of course this is more serious – there is a real interest in human rights in Russia outside the country, but there is a lack of knowledge about these issues because of a deficit of easily accessible and trustworthy resources in the English language.

Thirdly, the voices of Russian civil society activists are often heard less loudly and clearly than they deserve outside Russia. I think their views and opinions are often known but little outside Russia. It’s true non-Russian media often interpret the opinions and statements of Russian human rights defenders, and NGOs also transmit and interpret the opinions and statements of civil society activists from Russia. And of course, it is a very positive thing that they do this. But nevertheless in this process of interpretation and transmission, to a significant extent, the voices of the Russian human rights defenders themselves get lost.

The site http://www.rightsinrussia.info/ will be successful if it can help bring these voices directly to a non-Russian audience, and so help, even partially, to fill this gap.

– Do you think that the English-language materials of Western journalists, working in Russia, fail to show an adequate picture of the state of human rights in our country?

Without doubt, the role of the non-Russian press is extremely important role in throwing light on what is happening in Russia. One point can be made. Mostly, what we read are the views of correspondents who are not usually Russians, and their interpretation of Russian reality. I don’t mean to give the impression this is somehow a bad thing. But again, it tends to happen that, perhaps partly as a result, the voices of Russian human rights defenders in such publications are heard relatively weakly.

So, as far as possible, Rights in Russia will focus on presenting information from Russian human rights groups directly to a foreign audience.

– Simon, what can be done about the problem that some information about human rights in Russia often reaches an audience without being properly checked, it can be excessively emotional, or based on an incorrect understanding of the law and legal procedures?

Of course, you are right, this is a problem. Rights in Russia will do as much as it can to ensure that only accurate and trustworthy information appears on the site.

But I would like to respond to one particular aspect of what you have said. It is worth pointing out that the Russian human rights movement is rich in the range of tendencies it contains, its variety of views and opinions. In this regard, it is important to make clear that the website Rights in Russia does not wish to focus on developing its own position, its own opinions and views on the issues of human rights in the Russian Federation. The intention is not to take the rich range of tendencies and views that exist and begin making statements to the effect that some people are right and other people are wrong.

The intention is to make the website one of the channels through which the wide spectrum of views that constitute the Russian human rights movement, and a maximum of information about this movement, reaches an audience outside Russia. The site should be useful to the Russian human rights movement. The purpose of the site is to support the movement.

To put things another way, we hope the website will enable an audience outside Russia to educate itself about human rights in Russia. This applies to human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, politicians, and students. And also the general public.

The website, for example, will provide, by agreement with Russian partners, information about Russian human rights groups and how to get in touch with them. We hope this will make possible the creation of new links between people in and outside Russia, and possibly the development of new collaborative ideas and projects as a result.

– Simon, are you ready to accept first hand information from Russian human rights defenders in Russian?

Yes, we very much want to collaborate with Russian human rights organizations and receive information from them about their work and about the human rights issues they work on. Our e-mail address is: rightsinrussia@rightsinrussia.info

I would especially like to point to two current sections of our website. One consists of weekly and monthly summaries of events in human rights in Russia: "Human rights week by week" and a second consists of translations of materials from the website hro.org: "hro.org in English".

Readers can subscribe to these English-language materials by sending a request to: subscribe@rightsinrussia.info

You can also find our materials on Blogger, Facebook, Google Reader, Live Journal and Twitter.

The website http://www.rightsinrussia.info/ has begun working in close cooperation with HRO.org – in my view the best Russian-language Internet resource on human rights in Russia. I’d like to take the opportunity to express my thanks for this collaboration and support.

 

Andrei Blinushov, editor-in-chief of the portal "Human Rights in Russia" (HRO.org) talked with Simon Cosgrove, editor of the website Rights in Russia.