Members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand-picked Human Rights Council were warned not to upset him with “thorny” questions about Moscow’s faltering war in Ukraine when they met Wednesday, the English-language Moscow Times newspaper reported.
Council Chairman Valery Fadeyev cleared the topics to be discussed beforehand during meetings with Kremlin officials in recent weeks, the Moscow Times reported, citing the investigative news website Vyorstka.
Protests over Russian troop mobilizations, strict laws criminalizing so-called “fake news” about the military and a video showing a deserter from the Wagner mercenary group being executed with a sledgehammer were among the topics considered off-limits while speaking with Mr. Putin.
Human Rights Council members also were told to avoid asking about Russian troop deaths in Ukraine. The council’s newly picked “pro-war” members understood “perfectly well” not to raise controversial issues with Mr. Putin, the Moscow Times reported.
According to media reports, the Russian leader recently overhauled the council, replacing members who expressed doubts about the invasion of Ukraine with more vocal backers.
The Kremlin advised the council to focus on topics Mr. Putin wanted to discuss, such as sanctions on Russia since the invasion and allegations that their culture is being “canceled” in the West. Mr. Putin also was willing to discuss the recent mass death of Caspain seals and a new ban on public expressions of LGBTQ identity, the paper reported.