We, the undersigned human rights defenders and organisations from the Russian Federation, urge EU member states to lead a core group of states at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council to establish a mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation.
On 23 May, a number of Russian HRDs and organisations called on the Human Rights Council to establish this mandate. The signatories to that call cited a “considerably more aggressive” environment for civil society over the last decade and the elimination of fundamental freedoms in our country. In the time since that call was made, the situation in the Russian Federation has deteriorated further.
In June, almost a decade since the original “Foreign Agents” law was established, the Russian Duma adopted new amendments to the law which further expand the definition of a ‘foreign agent’, including an extremely vague notion of “being under the foreign influence” which does not stand any legal scrutiny. As of 25 August, 79 individuals and organisations have been added to the Foreign agents registries in 2022 alone, including the Committee Against Torture, Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Deutsche Welle. Today, more than 450 individuals and organisations are designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Since February 2022, Russian authorities have arrested 16,437 people for participating in protests or voicing opposing or dissenting opinions, first and foremost in protest against actions of the Russian government in Ukraine. In late June, in continuation of its pressure on independent lawyers, Russian authorities detained the chairperson of the Udmurtia regional bar association, Dmitry Talantov, for critical comments made on Facebook.
At the same time, more and more avenues for engagement with the international community are becoming closed to Russian human rights defenders and organisations. In July, the Russian government failed for the second time to participate in the Human Rights Committee’s periodic review of Russia. In March this year, Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe, and Russian citizens will no longer have the protections of the European Convention for Human Rights for complaints submitted in respect of violations committed after 16 September 2022.
Moreover, in June, the Russian Parliament adopted new legislation related to judgements made by the European Court of Human Rights. Despite being legally obligated to do so, according to this new legislation the Russian government will no longer implement ECtHR judgements that entered into force after 15 March 2022.
In our letter to the Human Rights Council in May, members of the human rights community in Russia highlighted the growing political repression in Russia and diplomatic isolation making it nearly impossible to engage with the international community. As this situation worsens, we urge international action to support us.
We note and welcome the joint statements in respect of the situation in Russia made during the 49th and 50th sessions of the Human Rights Council. These statements clearly articulate the concerns of the international community for the human rights situation in the Russian Federation. For many years, the member states of the European Union have steadfastly expressed support for, and solidarity with, members of our community of human rights defenders. We now call on EU member states to mobilize this support and solidarity and take a lead in the establishment of a mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation.
- Agora Association
- Ayn Rand Fund
- Citizens’ Watch
- Сivic Assistance Committee
- Crew Against Torture
- Yuri Dzhibladze, member of the Council of Russian Human Rights Defenders
- Environmental Human Rights Defenders program of Russian Social-Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia
- Environmental Crisis Group
- First Department (Dept One)
- The Fourth Sector
- Golos Movement for Defence of Voters’ Rights
- Human Rights Council of Saint Petersburg
- International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia
- “Ivanovo Regional Society of Human Rights” Public organization
- “Legal basis” Yekaterinburg City Association
- Mass Media Defence Centre
- “Memorial” Human Rights Defence Centre
- “No to Violence” Abuse Problem Resolution Center
- Public Verdict Foundation
- QUEER MEDIA
- Russia Behind Bars Foundation
- “Russian LGBT Network” Interregional social movement
- Sakharov center
- Sami Heritage and Development Foundation
- Sphere Charitable Foundation
- Sova Center for Information and Analysis
- Youth Democratic Movement Vesna