UN appoints rapporteur on human rights in Russia

Memorial

The UN Human Rights Council on Oct. 7 voted to create a special rapporteur on human rights in Russia. The resolution was adopted on a vote of 17 in favor, 6 against, and 24 abstentions. The Council authorizes the rapporteur to operate for a year, with a mandate to monitor the rights situation in the Russian Federation; to collect, examine and assess relevant information from all stakeholders; to make recommendations; and to present comprehensive reports to the Council and to the General Assembly. The Council also strongly urged the Russian authorities to comply with all obligations under international human rights law.

The move follows harsh laws instated in Russia this year that have forced the closure of human rights groups, including Memorial Human Rights Centre, which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 7 along with¬†Ukraine’s¬†Center for Civil Liberties¬†and imprisoned¬†Belarusian activist¬†Ales Bialiatski.

According to rights groups, a series of laws passed in Russia have effectively criminalized criticism of and reporting on the Ukraine war, and forced¬†independent media to close down.¬†Thousands now face charges for anti-war dissent, such as¬†wearing the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag. Laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations” have been used to¬†repress civil society, and criminalize anyone associated with independent groups.

The move marks the first time that the 16-year-old Human Rights Council has set up a special rapporteur to examine the rights record of a permanent member of the Security Council.

On Sept. 20, several human rights organizations wrote to the Council to call for the establishment of a special rapporteur for Russia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry firmly rejected the resolution, saying it contained false allegations.

From Jurist, Oct. 8. Used with permission.

See our last report on Russia’s¬†harsh crackdown on dissent.

Photo via Critical Mass

  1. Russian Justice Ministry orders another rights group closed

    Russia’s Justice Ministry has filed for a court order to shut down one of the country’s most prominent and respected human rights organizations. In its legal filing, the Justice Ministry claimed that the Moscow Helsinki Group had violated unspecified “legal requirements”¬†while carrying out its activities.

    Founded in 1976 by a group of Russian dissidents led by Soviet physicist Yuri Orlov, the group was named for the landmark 1975 Helsinki Accords on human rights and grew to become one of the principal civil society mechanisms for exposing human rights abuses in both the Soviet Union and Russia. (Mosow Times)

  2. Moscow Helsinki Group closed by court order

    A Russian court on Jan. 25 ordered the shut-down of the country’s oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, established in 1976 by Soviet dissidents. A judge reportedly took less than 20 minutes to rule in favor of a motion by the Justice Ministry to dissolve the group, one of the last independent human rights organizations in Russia. (EuroNews)

  3. Russian teen faces long prison term over social media post

    Olesya Krivtsova, 19,¬†from Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, is under house arrest and¬†faces¬†criminal charges for “discrediting the Russian army” over a post on the VK social network. She could receive a three-year prison term for the post criticizing the invasion of Ukraine. (CNN)

  4. Russian officials sanctioned over detention of anti-war critic

    The US Treasury Department on March 3¬†sanctioned¬†six people involved in the arbitrary detention of Russian anit-war critic Vladimir Kara-Murza. The US asserts that the charges against Kara-Murza are “another instance of the ‚ÄúKremlin manipulating Russia‚Äôs legal system to silence dissent.’

    In April 2022, Russia’s Justice Ministry¬†designated¬†Kara-Murza a “foreign agent,”¬†subjectig¬†him to extensive¬†financial disclosure requirements and oversight of his public messages. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Kara-Murza has strongly spoken out against the bombing of Ukrainian residential areas and civilian infrastructure. Now Kara-Murza is charged with spreading “disinformation,”¬†involvement in an “undesirable”¬†foreign organization, and high treason.

    The six individuals sanctioned span the Russian judiciary and witnesses testifying for the prosecution against Kara-Murza. Three of the individuals‚ÄďElena Anatolievna Lenskaya, Andrei Andreevich Zadachin and Danila Yurievich Mikheev‚Äďare sanctioned under US¬†Executive Order¬†13818, which builds upon the¬†Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. (Jurist)

  5. Belarus sentences Nobel Peace laureate to 10 years

    A Belarusian court on March 3 sentenced Ales Bialiatski, chair of the Viasna Human Rights Center and a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient, to 10 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the government through financing anti-government demonstrations. Three other prominent actvists received between seven and nine years in the joint trial. The verdict received international condemnation, including from the US, the European Union and the United Nations. (Jurist, Voice of Belarus)

    In a similar mass trial, five exiled opposition figures on March 6 were sentenced¬†in absentia¬†to between 12 and 18 years for “high treason” and other charges. Among the two receiving 18 years is¬†Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the¬†Belarusian¬†opposition, now exiled in Lithuana. (Voice of Belarus)

  6. Russia: raids target leaders of banned human rights group

    Nine leaders of one of Russia’s oldest human rights groups, Memorial, have been targeted in raids on their homes, 15 months after their organization was shut down by the courts. Among them was Memorial’s co-chair, Oleg Orlov, who is facing a criminal case for “discrediting”¬†the military.

    Memorial was founded in 1989, initially to remember millions of innocent people persecuted by Soviet repression. It was liquidated ahead of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

    The raids took place after Russia’s investigative committee opened a criminal investigation against Memorial for alleged “rehabilitation of Nazism.” (BBC News)

  7. Russia: opposition activist sentenced to 25 years

    Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent opposition activist in Russia, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for charges related to his criticism of the war in Ukraine. He was found guilty of a slew of trumped-up charges, including treason, the spreading of “false information,” and affiliation with an “undesirable organization.”¬†Kara-Murza’s sentence marks the longest for an opposition figure since the Ukraine conflict began. (Jurist)

  8. Russia declares Greenpeace an ‘undesirable organization’

    Russia on May 19 declared environmental group Greenpeace an “undesirable organization.” The designation criminalizes the work of organizations that bear the brand, placing¬†staff at risk of prosecution. The “undesirable” or “foreign agent” labels have been applied to dozens of NGOs in Russia since the classifications first came into use in 2015.

    “Undesirable” is the stronger designation of the two, leading to an effective ban in the country rather than closer monitoring by authorities.

    In a statement, the Office of the General Prosecutor said Greenpeace posed “a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security” of the country, as the group had tried to “interfere in the internal affairs of the state.” (DW)

  9. Russia’s leading human rights activist sentenced to prison

    Russia’s leading¬†human rights activist Oleg Orlov has been sentenced to two and a half years in a prison colony, his organization, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Memorial, announced Feb. 27.

    Orlov was convicted under Article 280.3 of the Russian Criminal Code, which prohibits the “discrediting” of the armed forces. The charges arose from an article he published last year in which he described the war in Ukraine as a blow to Russia‚Äôs future and referred to the Kremlin leadership as “fascist.”¬†(Jurist)