Russia sliding towards totalitarianism, says rights activist

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By Euronews
Russia sliding towards totalitarianism, says rights activist

Euronews, Andrei Beketov: From euronews’ studio in Brussels, we welcome Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a human rights campaigner, a leader of the Moscow Helsinki group.

“What impact do you want the EU-Russia summit to have on rights and freedoms in Russia?”

Lyudmila Alexeyeva: “I would like to believe that at this meeting the European colleagues of our leaders have been very assertive on these issues. The ordinary citizens of Russia are worried about the situation with human rights and the current relations between authorities and the civil society. The EU must have noticed that our authorities have recently launched a wide and cruel attack on civil society with an aim, I believe, to fully suppress it.”

Euronews: “But ordinary people are perhaps primarily preoccupied with their own material wellbeing. Shouldn’t EU-Russian relations be focusing on the economic cooperation leaving the humanitarian issues in the background?”

Alexeyeva: “You are right that ordinary people are more interested in the problems of their everyday lives. However the human rights activists, politicians and all thinking people know that as long as society is deprived of civil liberties and doesn’t have an opportunity to influence the decision-making of the authorities – ordinary people can’t resolve the problems of their everyday lives.”

Euronews: “How important are the court cases of Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky, Navalny to Europe?”

Alexeyeva: “I think they are very important not only for the citizens of our country but also to any European and to the whole world. The quality of life of all these people will depend on the direction in which such big country as Russia will go. It is not a democratic country, but it can move towards democracy. The danger is that it can move from the current predominantly authoritarian state to the totalitarian one as suggested by recent events. If Russia becomes a totalitarian state the whole world would suffer. Let’s remember what the world felt like when our country was the Soviet Union.”