Quote for the Day
Philip Leach: “This judgment [...] establishes the extent of the Russian authorities’ responsibility for severe loss of life during the Beslan School Siege"
“This ground-breaking judgment provides a significant measure of justice for the families, after so many years. It establishes the extent of the Russian authorities’ responsibility for severe loss of life during the Beslan School Siege, but also calls for important lessons to be learned, so that the mistakes made at Beslan are not repeated.”
- Professor Philip Leach, Director of European Human Rights Advocacy Centre
Igor Kalyapin: "I believe that if civil society is going to demonstrate the kind of dynamic development it demonstrated at this rally [on 26 March], then the authorities won’t have a chance to tighten the screws"
"I believe that if civil society is going to demonstrate the kind of dynamic development it demonstrated at this rally [on 26 March], then the authorities won’t have a chance to tighten the screws. I am absolutely certain of this. […] I believe that any public investigation and public report at the end of the investigation would be unquestionably effective. If that public investigation is publicly reported on to the head of state, then that is unquestionably all the more effective."
Source:'Igor Kalyapin on the aftermath of the demonstrations of 26th March [Radio Svoboda],' Rights in Russia, 30 March 2017 [source: Moscow Helsinki Group]
"What worries me most is the tendency for the authorities once again to talk to citizens from a position of strength, both during the protest [of 26 March] and after it, resorting to intimidation and deceit. For example, television channels in Russia have as yet made almost no mention of the event, despite its importance for our country’s public life. Judging by the President’s public utterances, the authorities have no desire to talk to members of civil society about what is worrying them, or to meet them half way – they still want to scare people and force them to stay at home instead of resolving issues through compromise. [...] We are not living in a country governed by the rule of law"
- Liudmila Alekseeva, chair Moscow Helsinki Group
The European Parliament 'condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anticorruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexey Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations'
The European Parliament:
[...] 1. Condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anticorruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexey Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations;
2. Calls on the Russian authorities for the immediate release of, and the dropping of charges against, Alexei Navalny and all the peaceful protestors, journalists and activists detained in the anti-corruption rallies held in Moscow and a number of Russian cities on 26 March and 2 April 2017; underlines the fact that Russian authorities bear full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of those detained;
3. Underlines the fact that the sentences imposed are politically motivated, and urges the Russian judiciary to demonstrate its independence from political interference; calls on the Russian authorities to put an end to the harassment of journalists, political opponents and political and civil society activists, to fully respect international human rights obligations and to guarantee media freedom and freedom of assembly [...].
Source:'European Parliament resolution on Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors,' European Parliament, 5 April 2017
Tanya Lokshina: "At the highest level, [the Russian authorities] should resolutely condemn attacks against LGBT people in Chechnya and ensure safety and justice for the victims"
"It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant. LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to “honour killings” by their own relatives for tarnishing family honor. So it is particularly disappointing that the Kremlin spokesman should tell the victims to use official channels to complain, without saying a word about any security guarantees. Without solid security guarantees, victims and witnesses cannot possibly come forward, and there is no chance that an effective investigation could take place. Surely Russian authorities can do better than that. At the highest level, they should resolutely condemn attacks against LGBT people in Chechnya and ensure safety and justice for the victims."
- Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director at Human Rights Watch.
Tanya Lokshina, 'Anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya: when filing “official complaints” isn’t an option,' Open Democracy, 4 April 2017
Nils Muižnieks: "Since 2012, the authorities in the Russian Federation have progressively made the country less hospitable for human rights defenders"
"Since 2012, the authorities in the Russian Federation have progressively made the country less hospitable for human rights defenders. That year the Russian Parliament adopted the “Law on Foreign Agents”, requiring NGOs that receive donations from abroad to register as “foreign agents” (a label which, in the Russian-speaking context, is a synonym for an enemy, a spy or someone who serves foreign hostile interests, as a result of its use as a standard accusation against thousands of individuals during the political repressions of the 1930s and 40s) if they engage in “political activity,” which in the official understanding can encompass any activity by NGOs aimed at influencing public opinion or making proposals for changes to any governmental policies. The implementation of the Foreign Agent Law has further placed NGOs declared as “foreign agents” in a clear disadvantage vis-à-vis other organisations, and in many cases has led them to curb their activities, self-censor or initiate their own dissolution. Last year, a criminal prosecution was launched against the leader of “Women of Don” - an NGO known for its human rights, humanitarian and charity activities – because of failure to register in the roster of “foreign agents”. Additionally, legislation was enacted in 2015 permitting the executive branch to declare as ”undesirable” any NGO deemed to imperil the constitutional order, national security and defence."
- Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
Nils Muižnieks, The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations, Human Rights Comment, 4 April 2017
Liudmila Alekseeva: "There is a new generation, which appreciates freedom and human dignity, and is ready to fight for its rights"
"It’s amazing! This is the first rally, where the majority were young people aged under 25-27. In the past we have always had more mature people coming out. Now we are getting young people in their teens and school students. But also a lot of young adults. [This] means that the years that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union have not been in vain. There is a new generation, which appreciates freedom and human dignity, and is ready to fight for its rights. [...] there are very many more, especially compared with Soviet times, who are dedicated to freedom. [...] The young people have already realized that [the authorities] are lying. Young people do not watch television. Their grandparents are sitting at home. What do they do? They switch on the TV. But our young people delve into the Internet. [After] these developments, I believe that change could happen sooner rather than later. Maybe in even less than ten years.”
Valentina Cherevatenko: "Our work has become far more difficult because of the ‘foreign agent’ law. [...] But we continue our work"
"Our work has become far more difficult because of the ‘foreign agent’ law. The community of strong and active organizations, the institutions of civil society with which we would like to compare ourselves, organizations which it is always an honour to work with – all these people have now been added to the list of ‘foreign agents.’ This label makes our life much harder. But we continue our work. People continue to come to us, asking for help. Our public advice centre has been working now for 23 years, and continues to function. I cannot praise highly enough those lawyers who continue to work with us without asking for any money. This is very hard work."
- Valentina Cherevatenko, head of the NGO 'Women of the Don'
'Лауреат премии имени Анны Политковской: "Нас пока не сломали",' BBC Russian Service, 10 March 2017 [for translation, see Rights in Russia]
Liudmila Alekseeva: "We have to be happy for Dadin and Chudnovets and everyone, but we must remember that from the beginning they were unfairly convicted and only afterward acquitted. [...] We have many unfairly condemned people incarcerated"
“You understand, of course, we have to be happy for Dadin and Chudnovets and everyone, but we must remember that from the beginning they were unfairly convicted and only afterward acquitted. Of course, we have to be happy about this, but I would like it if our judicial system worked humanely rather than in such a way that we are happy at individual corrections made to its outrageous mistakes. We have many unfairly condemned people incarcerated"
- Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group
'Liudmila Alekseeva: “From the beginning they were unfairly convicted and only later acquitted.” On the reversal of the sentences against Dadin and Chudnovets and the pardoning of Sevastidi,' RIA Novosti, 7 March 2017 [translation: Rights in Russia]
Sergei Krivenko: "Violence and extortion haven't gone anywhere in the military. [...] The point of the violence now is not maintaining some sort of discipline but the extraction of money"
"Violence and extortion haven't gone anywhere in the military. But the form of these things has changed. Hazing as a day-to-day form of control by senior soldiers over recruits has been superseded by a system where violence is determined on ethnic grounds or by region of origin. The point of the violence now is not maintaining some sort of discipline but the extraction of money."
- Sergei Krivenko, head of the Citizen And The Army NGO and a member of Russia's Human Rights Council
Photo: Website of the Presidential Human Rights Council
Yelizaveta Mayetnaya, 'Russian Activists Say Suspicious Military Deaths Often Tied To Extortion Schemes,' RFE/RL, 17 March 2017
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