Read the joint letter from Russian civil society in full:

Appeal of Russian human rights defenders to the UN Human Rights Council

May 23, 2022

We, Russian civil society organizations and human rights defenders, who have signed in our personal capacity, call on the UN Human Rights Council to promptly consider and appoint a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation.

Today, we are extremely concerned about the catastrophic situation in which Russian civil society is placed and the destruction of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country. Over the last decade, the environment for civil society and human rights defenders has become considerably more aggressive. The opportunities for human rights work in the country have significantly narrowed. Periodic reports by UN treaty bodies, UN special procedures mandate holders, Council of Europe bodies, and Russian and international civil society organizations attest to this to some extent. However, the situation changed dramatically after February 24, 2022, as the remnants of fundamental freedoms – those of expression, assembly, and association – were eliminated.

Increasing political repression in Russia, combined with the country’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe and diplomatic isolation, make it increasingly difficult for Russian civil society to engage with the international community in support of human rights. In the current circumstances, the appointed Special Rapporteur on Russia would be the de facto main contact point for Russian human rights defenders and organizations in the UN human rights infrastructure at precisely the time when such a role is crucial. The mandate would demonstrate the UN HRC’s position that human rights violations are unacceptable and willingness to take real steps to guarantee the rights enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration and the treaties ratified by Russia. This position would provide another independent voice in defence of those persecuted for human rights work.

Signed by

The Council of Russian human rights defenders

  • Galina Arapova
  • Svetlana Astrakhantseva
  • Valery Borshchev
  • Alexander Cherkasov
  • Sergey Davidis
  • Yury Dzhibladze
  • Svetlana Gannushkina
  • Sergey Lukashevsky
  • Karina Moskalenko
  • Oleg Orlov
  • Lev Ponomaryov
  • Olga Sadovskaya
  • Yelena Shakhova
  • Natalya Taubina

Supported by

  • Committee Against Torture
  • Environmental Crisis Group
  • Moscow Helsinki Group
  • Public Verdict Foundation
  • Sakharov Centre
  • Sova Centre for Information and Analysis
  • St. Petersburg Human Rights Council
  • Support Programme for Environmental Activists of the Russian Social Ecological Union
  • Olga Alekseyeva, a human rights defender
  • Valentina Cherevatenko, a human rights defender
  • Leonid Krikun, a lawyer
  • Lev Levinson, a human rights defender
  • Oksana Paramonova, a human rights defender
  • Ella Polyakova, a human rights defender
  • Alexei Sokolov, a human rights defender
  • Andrey Suslov, a human rights defender
  • Natalya Yevdokimova, a human rights defender
  • Larisa Zakharova, a human rights defender