International Comment: Intergovernmental organizations

6 June 2012 
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe 
CASES No. 19 
1144th meeting – 6 June 2012 
Cases against the Russian Federation 
Application Case Judgment of Final on 57942/00+ 
DH-DD(2012)524DH–DD(2011)922EDH-DD(2010)384EDH-DD(2010)291E DH-DD(2010)587EDH-DD(2011)410EDH-DD(2011)422E 
The Deputies 
1. reiterated their concern with regard to the lack of any conclusive results in the vast majority of the investigations conducted following the judgments of the Court, drawing attention by way of examples to the cases of Akhmadova and others, Bazorkina, Khadisov and Tsechoyev, Musayev and others; [Read more

6 June 2012

Russian law to increase fines on demonstrators should be dropped, say PACE co-rapporteurs
Parliamentary Assembly of Europe
Strasbourg, 06.06.2012 – The co-rapporteurs for Russia of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Andi Gross (Switzerland, SOC) and György Frunda (Romania, EPP/CD) today expressed their serious concern at the adoption by the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament of a controversial bill designed to increase fines for orchestrating unauthorised demonstrations. They called on the upper chamber – which is due to debate the draft law today – to reject it and called on the President not to sign it into law. The law provides that organisers of unsanctioned protests can be charged up to the equivalent of 39,000 euros and participants up to 13,000 euros. [Read more]

11 May 2012
OSCE/ODIHR final report on Russia’s presidential election recommends measures to promote fairness and equality in electoral process
The final report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on Russia’s presidential election on 4 March 2012 concludes that the contest was clearly skewed in favour of one of the contestants and recommends measures to ensure a more balanced process.
The report says that all contestants were able to campaign unhindered and had access to media, but the then Prime Minister was given advantage in the coverage. State resources were also mobilized in his support.
The report offers a number of recommendations on promoting the fairness and equality of the electoral process. In particular, it recommends that existing legislative safeguards should be interpreted so as to prevent holders of public office from enjoying undue advantage over other electoral contestants. [Read more]

11 May 2012
Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative,
Catherine Ashton, on arrests of opposition leaders in Moscow
The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement
“The High Representative is concerned about the arrests of opposition leaders in Moscow and the
15-day prison sentence imposed on some of them on 9 May 2012.
The freedoms of expression and of assembly, and participation in peaceful demonstrations, are
fundamental rights in democratic states and are indeed enshrined in the Russian Constitution. [Read more]

10 May 2012
OSCE media representative сoncerned by detention of journalists, cyber attacks on media websites in Russia
VIENNA, 10 May 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed concern today over the indiscriminate detention of journalists reporting on street protests in Moscow and recent cyber attacks on Russian media websites.
“The role of the police is not to detain and harass journalists, but to help them perform their professional duties. What happened in recent days must be thoroughly investigated and sanctions taken against those law enforcement officers who violated the rights of journalists to collect and disseminate information,” Mijatović said. Media reports and blogs indicate that riot police harassed and detained dozens of reporters who were covering street gatherings in Moscow from 6 to 9 May. Among those detained were Aleksandr Chernykh (Kommersant daily newspaper), Aleksei Saveleyev ( online news agency), Tikhon Dzyadko (Ekho Moskvy radio station), Alevtina Yelsukova (Bolshoi gorod weekly newspaper), Sergei Minenko (Moskovskie novosti daily newspaper), Roman Osharov (Voice of America radio station), Timur Olevsky (Dozhd’ television channel) and Oleg Salmanov (Vedomosti daily newspaper). All journalists were eventually released. At least four journalists – Ivan Kolpakov (, Vadim Kantor (Moskovskie novosti), Dmitry Zykov and Yevgeniya Mikheyeva ( online newspaper) were injured by the police. [Read more]

4 May 2012 
UNICEF welcomes Russian Federation ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities 
MOSCOW/GENEVA, 4 May, 2012 – UNICEF congratulates the Russian Federation for ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, describing it as a great step forward for people with disabilities, particularly children. Russia now joins 110 countries that have already ratified the Convention which recognizes the human rights of people with disabilities and commits Governments to making every effort to help them fully participate in their societies. [Read more

Independent UN expert calls on Russia to ensure better protection of cultural rights
26 April 2012 
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on Russia to ensure better protections so that everyone can fully participate in the cultural life of the country. 
“There is an urgent need to respond to the desire of all persons to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life without discrimination and to promote everyone’s right to access and enjoy cultural heritage,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed. 
In a press release issued in Moscow following a 12-day mission, Ms. Shaheed noted that artistic life is vibrant in Russian society. However, she said she was “disturbed” by reports of social art activists being harassed by the police, and being prosecuted and convicted for provocative artistic expressions. Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, serve in an unpaid capacity and are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. [Read more]

20 March 2012
Thomas Hammarberg: Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner
Government leaders distort justice when they interfere in individual court cases
Outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Russia’s Prosecutor General to verify the legality of the conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the oil company Yukos. Cases relating to co-accused Platon Lebedev and 30 others would also be assessed. Though the deadline set for the review is strikingly short, the initiative may create an opening for a long-awaited discussion about politicised trials. Khodorkovsky would now have been eligible for parole on an initial conviction from 2005 on charges of tax evasion. However, he was tried again in 2010 on new charges and sentenced to another six-year prison term. Serious questions were raised in human rights circles - in Russia and abroad - about the length of the sentence as well as the fairness of the trial itself: whether guilt was proven and whether this was not another trial on the same substance. [Read more]

5 March 2012
Officefor Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Russia’s presidential election marked by unequal campaign conditions, active citizens’ engagement, international observers say
MOSCOW, 5 March 2012 – Although candidates in yesterday’s presidential election in the Russian Federation were able to campaign unhindered, conditions were clearly skewed in favour of one of the contestants, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the international observers concluded in a statement issued today.
The observers noted that all candidates had access to the media, but the Prime Minister was given a clear advantage over his competitors in terms of media presence. In addition, state resources were mobilized at the regional level in his support. Also, overly restrictive candidate registration requirements limited genuine competition.
The election campaign was characterized by continuing and generally unobstructed large-scale protests over allegations of fraud during the December 2011 Duma elections. Demands for honest elections by citizens and candidates led to greater civic involvement in observation efforts to enhance the integrity of the process. [Read more]

5 March 2012 
Statement by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union and Vice-President of the Commission, on the presidential elections in Russia on 4 March 2012 
Europa Press Release 
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, today made the following statement: 
"As Russia’s strategic partner and direct neighbour, the EU has followed with particular interest the election process and the public debate in Russia on the State Duma elections of last December and the Presidential elections held yesterday. 

The EU takes note of the preliminary results of the presidential elections and the clear victory of Vladimir Putin. International election observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) noted the significant civic engagement in the campaign and that authorities allowed protests to take place without undue interference, but also identified shortcomings and irregularities in the preparations and conduct of these elections and that voters’ choice was limited. The EU encourages Russia to address these shortcomings." [Read more]

28 February 2012
European Parliament
Russia has no opportunity to change its leaders in a democratic way
Major concerns at the human rights situation in Russia ahead of Sunday's presidential election were raised at a human rights subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. Representatives of Russian civil society pointed to the culture of impunity, restrictions on freedom of expression, gaps in the rule of law and possible fraud in the presidential election. [...]

21 January 2012
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
PACE post-election delegation urges Russia’s political parties to embrace change 
Moscow, 21.01.2012 – A post-election delegation (1) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), ending a two-day visit to Moscow (20-21 January), has welcomed widespread indications – from across the political spectrum – of the need for political change in Russia, and called for this change to be substantial and sustainable. It should not be a survival mechanism, the delegation said. [...]

2 December 2011
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
A new Interim Resolution concerning actions of the Russian security forces in Chechnya issued by the Committee of Ministers:
Interim Resolution CM/ResDH(2011)292
Execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights
in 154 cases against the Russian Federation concerning actions of the security forces
in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation
(see Appendix for the list of cases in the Khashiyev group)
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 December 2011
at the 1128th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter “the Convention”); [Read more]

7 October 2011
European Human Rights Commissioner Criticizes Russia's 'Atmosphere Of Impunity'
Reprinted by kind permission of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
To mark the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Danila Galperovich spoke with Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg about that case, as well as about other high-profile murder investigations and key human rights issues in Russia. [...]

4 October 2011
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Thomas Hammarberg
Latest Human Rights Comment
[04/10/11 09:30] In recent years, some of the leading investigative journalists in Europe have fallen victim to brutal killings: Hrant Dink in Turkey, Georgyi Gongadze in Ukraine and Elmar Huseynov in Azerbaijan. On 7 October 2011 it will be five years since Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in Russia. No effort must be spared to apprehend and bring to justice not only the actual killers, but also those who ordered these murders, says Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in his latest Human Rights Comment published today. But these are far from the only cases of violence directed towards journalists. (more)

9 September 2011
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Thomas Hammarberg
Latest Human Rights Comment
Russia Should Remove All Hindrances to Freedom of Assembly
Strasbourg, 09/09/11 – “Freedom of assembly is crucial to supporting pluralism and democracy. The Russian authorities should review legislation and practice in order to uphold this fundamental human right” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, releasing today a letter addressed to the Government of the Russian Federation.

19 July 2011 
Read Thomas Hammarberg´s latest Human Rights Comment:
Judgments issued by the European Court cannot be ignored
People turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg because they feel unable to find justice at home. Though the majority of European states do comply with the Court’s decisions, there are some which are strikingly slow to abide by their obligation to execute the judgments. This is serious - a prompt, full and effective execution of the Court’s judgments is key for the effective implementation of the European Convention’s standards in domestic law. 

7 July 2011
European Parliament
European Parliament resolution of 7 July 2011 on the preparations for the Russian State Duma elections in December 2011

15 June 2011
Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 15.06.2011 – Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE), the rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on the situation of human rights defenders, has expressed satisfaction following the acquittal of prominent human rights lawyer Oleg Orlov, the head of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” in the Russian Federation. [...]


9 June 2011
European Parliament
MEPs criticise repression of opposition leaders
MEPs favour more ambitious trade, visa and cooperation agreements with Russia, but only if it does more to protect basic human rights, e.g. by ending "politically-motivated court decisions" against opposition leaders, removing curbs on press freedom, pulling its troops out of Georgia and allowing gay parades. This was the key message, in a resolution passed on Thursday, to government leaders at the EU-Russia summit in Nizhny Novgorod. [....]


17 February 2011
MEPs question independence and impartiality of Russia’s judiciary
European Parliament
Press Release
Human rights − 17-02-2011 - 13:14
Plenary sessions
Russia's judiciary appears increasingly politicised and lacking in impartiality, says the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday 17 February, citing the questionable verdict on the Khodorkovsky case and violations of human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly...

17 February 2011
UN rights chief urges Russia to step up efforts to ensure rule of law, accountability
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
Press release
The United Nations human rights chief today urged Russian authorities to act without delay on reforms to key institutions relating to the rule of law and the fight against corruption and discrimination...

Brussels, 17 November 2010

16310/1/10 REV 1
The European Union condemns the brutal attack on Russian journalist Oleg Kashin of Kommersant on 6 November 2010, and on the activist for the preservation of the Khimki forest Konstantin Fetissov on 4 November 2010. The EU welcomes the prompt reaction by President Medvedev to these attacks. The attacks against Mr Kashin and Mr. Fetissow are the most recent cases in a highly worrying trend of violence, intimidation and insecurity faced by journalists, bloggers and activists in the Russian Federation...
26 October 2010

Human Rights Comment
Thomas Hammarberg
Sunday 31 October will be a test for the effectiveness in practice of the right to peaceful assembly, which is enshrined in Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. For more than a year “Strategy 31” rallies have been held in Moscow, St Petersburg and some other Russian cities on months with that date. The plight of these rallies so far has illustrated the limitations to the right to assembly in practice. This problem is not unique to Russia.In Moscow the “Strategy 31” meetings have regularly ended with crackdowns by riot police, and a number of persons have been detained and participants beaten. On 31 August 2010 media reported that 400 persons demonstrated and 70 of them were apprehended by the police, among them opposition politicians, journalists and activists. During one of the “Strategy 31” rallies (31 December 2009), Lyudmila Alexeyeva - the 83 year old dissident of the Soviet era, veteran of human rights activism and current chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group - was detained. [...] The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, together with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, have published a set of Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly which could serve as a useful tool for legislators and practitioners responsible for implementing laws. They specify the obligations of the state, such as the duty to protect a peaceful assembly, to provide good administration by informing the public clearly which body is responsible for taking decisions on the regulation of freedom of assembly (regulatory authority), and to act without discrimination. [...] Peaceful meetings and demonstrations are one of the most important forms of dialogue between the authorities in power and civil society. Freedom of assembly must be protected as crucial to supporting pluralism and democracy. 
22 June 2010
PACE urges Russia to fight terrorism in the North Caucasus ‘in line with human rights’

Strasbourg, 22.06.2010 – The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has urged Russia to fight terrorism in the North Caucasus by “respecting fundamental rights and the tenets of the rule of law”, by following the example of other countries that have had to face it, and by working more closely with local NGOs and the Council of Europe.

In a resolution unanimously approved today based on a report by Dick Marty (Switzerland, ALDE), the Assembly expressed “compassion and solidarity” with the families of those who had suffered terrorist attacks, but said the human rights situation in the North Caucasus was “the most serious and most delicate” in the whole Council of Europe area. The parliamentarians noted:

- in the Chechen Republic, despite impressive reconstruction efforts, “a climate of pervading fear”, disappearances of government opponents and human rights defenders, reprisals against the families of suspected fighters, and intimidation of the media and civil society, all in an atmosphere of “personalisation of power”;

- in Ingushetia, the growth of “constructive dialogue” with civil society since the appointment of the new President, but also an alarming upsurge of violence since 2009, including murders and disappearances;

- in Dagestan, an outbreak of fresh terrorist acts, prompting responses from the security forces which “were not always lawful and productive”, putting in peril the admirable age-old tradition of peaceable religious cohabitation there.

Addressing the Assembly as part of the debate, the President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said there had been “enormous progress” in the region in the last three or four years, and pledged to uphold human rights and punish violations. “As President I, more than anyone, am interested in turning the North Caucasus into a zone of order – we are the ones who live there.”
In their resolution, the parliamentarians pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights had been compelled to assume a role of “last-ditch protection” for many victims in the region, finding grave and repeated violations of fundamental rights which illustrate a “climate of impunity”. This and the passiveness of the authorities undermine the population’s trust in the security forces and “feed the nefarious spiral of violence,” they said.

They also said there were strong indications that the Chechen power, or at least circles close to it, were directly implicated in the murder of Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna.

They recommended that the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers directly monitor Russia’s commitments as regards the situation in the North Caucasus.

Adopted resolution
Adopted recommendation
Mr Marty's report
Verbatim of the debate
Voting results
Video of exchange of views