The 84-year-old Lyudmila Alexeyeva is well known as one of Russia’s most famously dedicated human rights activists. She is now also only the most recent in a long string of prominent figures to resign from the Presidential Human Rights Council now that Vladimir Putin has come back into power for a third term.
According to a new interview with Reuters, when Alexeyeva first met Putin in November 2002, she was impressed by his willingness to listen to people among the human rights community in Russia, including herself.
But by December 2006, Alexeyeva says that the president’s true nature was visible, and, she said, he was no longer listening.
“He was a different man, a caricature of himself. I took one look and wanted to leave the room,” said Alexeyeva, who has been challenging the Kremlin on human rights since the 1960s. “Putin came to believe that everyone wants him to stay in power … He doesn’t understand. It’s a terrible thing to have power. Very few people can handle it properly.”