EU: encourage Russia to improve human rights situation

EU: encourage Russia to improve human rights situation

(Brussels, 16 May) The deterioration of the human rights situation in Russia should be a central theme of this week’s EU-Russia Summit taking place in Samara, says Amnesty International.

In a letter sent to the German EU Presidency (click here to read the letter) the human rights organization raised its concerns regarding the continued limitations of freedom of expression and assembly in Russia.

The excessive use of force in the April political demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg is but one example of the growing lack of freedom of speech and assembly in the country. Television images showed numerous arrests and beatings of participants of the marches, including accredited foreign journalists.

“The fact that so much of the abuse was committed in front of cameras is a worrying indicator of the level of impunity that prevails in Russia” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

“The EU must stand up to Russia to stop things getting from bad to worse and not just for the sake of ordinary Russians but for Europe as well”, he added.

Amnesty International reiterated its concerns relating to the law of April 2006 that – as predicted – has severely curtailed the work Russian and foreign NGOs and created an even more hostile environment for human rights defenders. Those involved with the North Caucasus and Chechnya in particular run risk physical attacks that can even result in deaths or “disappearances”.

After the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006 there have been other cases of violence against activists such as that of Galinda Kozlova, a campaigner for the rights of the Mari culture. At the beginning of the year, Kozlova was attacked by a man who beat her severely without attempting to steal any of her belongings. Significantly, it took a European Parliament resolution for the authorities to start a thorough investigation of this case. However, so far neither Kozlova’s attacker nor the perpetrators of a similar attack on her husband in 2005 have been found. The couple believes the beatings are related to their work and their criticism of government policies. (click here to read the briefing note)

“The current climate of intimidation and the level of impunity with which beatings and even killings are carried out are unacceptable in a democratic society. We expect Chancellor Merkel to tell President Putin that the bullying must stop”added Oosting.

For further comment/background and interviews:

     Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
     Tel: 32-2-5021499
     Fax: 32-2-5025686
     Email: [email protected]