EU leaders must shine the spotlight on the grave human rights violations in Russia at every opportunity. The EU-Russia summit must be used to politically and publicly remind Russia of its human rights obligation, and show them that the world is watching.
Protest on 27 January against Russia’s crack-down on civil society: NGOs join forces in solidarity with Russian counter-parts ahead of the EU-Russia Summit
(Brussels, 24 January 2014) On 27 January 2014, dozens of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), activists and members of the public will join forces on the doorsteps of the European Union (EU) in protest against the crack-down on civil society in Russia. This comes on the eve of the EU-Russia summit, which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will attend.
In Russia, the human rights situation is progressively deteriorating, with continuous clampdowns on civil society. A raft of punitive laws curbing the freedoms of expression, association and assembly has been issued since the widely contested 2011-2012 parliamentary and presidential elections. The Russian authorities have detained hundreds of peaceful protesters, initiating subsequent criminal proceedings. While some have been released since the 18 December 2013 amnesty law and a presidential pardon, many peaceful protesters remain behind bars.
“EU leaders must shine the spotlight on the grave human rights violations in Russia at every opportunity’’, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. ’’The EU-Russia summit must be used to politically and publicly remind Russia of its human rights obligation, and show them that the world is watching”.
The government has introduced discriminatory legislation within the last year specifically targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community. Over the last year LGBTI activists were violently attacked on several occasions during peaceful protests by anti-gay activists. But despite overwhelming video and photo evidence and witness testimonies, no action has been taken against the perpetrators. Xenophobic attitudes have also been on the rise, with mass police raids against migrant workers becoming increasingly frequent in recent years.
Across Russia, the authorities have systematically targeted hundreds of NGOs with ‘inspections’; these include election watchdogs, human rights, LGBTI, and environmental NGOs. As a result, many face the risk of fines and closure under the ‘foreign agent’s law’. In solidarity with their Russian counter-parts, NGOs will hold the demonstration on 27 January at 12.30 on Schuman round-about in Brussels; these include human rights, LGBTI, and other civil society organisations.
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