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Putin appoints Kremlin-friendly chair and gives independent professionals the boot in major Human Rights Council shakeup

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order appointing a new chairperson to Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council. Under the order, former state TV host Valery Fadeyev will take the council’s top job, and current chair Mikhail Fedotov will be dismissed “in connection with the fact that he has reached the age of 70.” Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann brought press attention to Putin’s order by posting a copy on Facebook.

Another simultaneously issued presidential order alters the lineup of the Human Rights Council itself. Schulmann, who has served on the council for less than a year, will be excluded from it along with well-known human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov and two other members. Fadeyev, the council’s newly appointed chair, is broadly considered more of a Putin loyalist than his predecessor, and Putin’s second order regarding the council shifts the rest of its composition toward the Kremlin as well. One of its newly appointed members is Kirill Vyshinsky, the editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti — Ukraine who was released from a Ukrainian prison ahead of this year’s mass prisoner swap.

The Presidential Human Rights Council is known as a potential mediator between Russia’s human rights community and the country’s government. When news of Fedotov’s potential firing first began to emerge, members of the council wrote a letter to Putin asking for their chair to be permitted to keep his post.

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