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Putin Picks Kremlin Critic as Russia’s Ombudsman

President Vladimir Putin has nominated an outspoken Kremlin critic as Russia’s next ombudsman.

MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin has nominated an outspoken Kremlin critic as Russia’s next ombudsman.

Putin told rights activists Tuesday that he would formally nominate Ella Pamfilova, former head of the Kremlin human rights council, to the post after a meeting with her. No date was set.

Pamfilova, 60, has not commented on the prospective appointment as of this article’s publication.

The outgoing ombudsman Vladimir Lukin endorsed Pamfilova’s nomination, as did a number of prominent independent activists.

Lukin will leave his post next month at the end of the maximum two terms as ombudsman. He was appointed in 2004.

Pamfilov’s appointment will have to be approved by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, before mid-March.

Russia established the institution of ombudsman in 1994. The official has powers to sue and to submit complaints to state agencies and the Duma on behalf of people whose rights have been violated in the country.

Pamfilova, a former federal minister and liberal lawmaker, was appointed in 2004 to head the presidential human rights council.

The Kremlin advisory body has a track record of criticizing Russian authorities, including on the cases of the jailed Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was freed last month, and the death in custody of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Pamfilova resigned her post in 2010, under then President Dmitry Medvedev, citing the council’s inability to influence Kremlin policy.

She was questioned by the Investigative Committee last year, allegedly over a new case against Khodorkovsky that was being considered at the time.

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