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Russia: High Representative’s visit should empower those who courageously stand up for human rights

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Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Vice-President

Ministers of Foreign Affairs , EU Member States

Dear High Representative,

Dear Ministers of Foreign Affairs,

Ahead of the High Representative’s upcoming visit to Moscow, we are writing to urge the EU to take robust and public action to support those in Russia who courageously defend human rights in the face of spiralling levels of repression. It will be crucial that the High Representative uses this visit to send a strong signal that empowers civil society and counters any perception that business with the EU continues as usual while the Russian authorities orchestrate a wide-scale clampdown on human rights and dissent.

The High Representative’s visit comes against the backdrop of the arbitrary, politically motivated detention of opposition activist, Aleksei Navalny, and the violent suppression of the nationwide protests that erupted after his arrest. Over the past weeks, the authorities have unleashed a spate of reprisals in a bid to dampen the wave of discontent and silence government critics. Thousands of peaceful protesters have been arbitrarily detained amid widespread police brutality, while scores of lawyers, journalists, and civil society activists, have been “preventatively arrested” and penalised for spurious administrative “offences” or targeted as criminal suspects under unfounded charges. The authorities have also conducted raids on the homes and offices of journalists and leading opposition activists, including the office of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation that was involved in unearthing allegations of top-level corruption in Russia.