HRC48:  Item 4 – Joint Statement

Video statement

27 September 2021

Check against delivery.

In today’s Russia, one can be held for months in pre-trial detention simply for providing space in a café for a public event, spend two years under house arrest for participating in a public debate and reposting information about peaceful protests, or be taken off a plane, charged and jailed — simply for being associated with groups deemed “undesirable” or “extremist” by the authorities.

In July, human rights defender Semyon Simonov was convicted on criminal charges for being unable to pay a fine arbitrarily imposed under the “foreign agent” law on the group he was heading. The number of Russian journalists and media outlets, including Meduza and TV-Dozhd, designated as “foreign agents” has more than doubled since April 2021 alone.

Russian authorities have used the laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations” and anti-extremism legislation to demonize and stifle independent groups and media, and to punish and intimidate dissenting and independent voices. For nearly a year before the September 2021 parliamentary election, Russian authorities put additional legislation and policies in place to make it easier to arbitrarily prosecute virtually any group, activist, domestic or foreign media, including bloggers.

The continued imprisonment of political opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the move to bring new charges against him are the tip of the iceberg of the crackdown against him, his supporters, and the broader political opposition in Russia. By banning three associations connected to Navalny as “extremist,” the authorities deliberately put activists who may have in the past donated to his causes at risk of future prosecution and prevented politicians who supported Navalny from participation in the September 2021 parliamentary election. Thousands of Navalny’s supporters and other demonstrators were detained during the wave of protests that followed his arrest, and scores continue to face harassment, intimidation, and detention.

Special Procedures and the High Commissioner have repeatedly expressed their dismay at the measures taken to silence and intimidate people in Russia. It is time that members of this Council press the Russian authorities to reverse the course of the unprecedented human rights crackdown, and take steps to bring Russia more formally onto the Council’s agenda.

Thank you.

  • Amnesty International
  • Human Rights House Foundation
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)