Russian police detaining anti-war protester.

International community must stand with Russian dissenters

News 06.10.2022

Russians speaking out against the war on Ukraine and calling for human rights and democratic freedoms must not be left behind by the international community, Right Livelihood has warned the UN Human Right Council.

Read the entire statement here.

Addressing the 51st session of the Council, we noted that people fighting for democracy and fundamental freedoms in Russia were increasingly isolated as countries cut off diplomatic ties and imposed sanctions due to the war on Ukraine.

“We call on the Human Rights Council not to leave them behind, but rather to support them and their work through a strong mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Russia,” our statement said.

We noted that Russia has been “weaponising [its] criminal code against anyone exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

This year, more than 18,000 Russians have been arrested for protesting their country’s invasion of Ukraine. These arrests were often based on laws targeting civil society organisations, activists and protesters. In several cases, these laws also lead to censorship and the outright liquidation of civil society organisations.

One of those NGOs shut down by Russian authorities is Memorial International, the country’s top human rights organisation that won the 2004 Right Livelihood Award.

“Earlier this month, the authorities imposed a preventive restriction of property rights on Memorial which had donated its premises to a friendly organisation and arbitrarily froze the private bank accounts of their respective executive directors,” our statement warned, highlighting the ongoing harassment of the organisation.

Memorial International and its member organisation Memorial Human Rights Center were shut down by court orders in December 2021, as Russia intensified its systemic repression of civil society activism.

Memorial, which had documented Soviet-era repression and monitored human rights in modern-day Russia, has long been the backbone of Russian civil society.

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