Football World Cup : Is Everyone Really Welcome in Russia ?

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On 14 June 2018, Russia will become the first nation of the former Soviet Union, and the first ever Eastern European state, to host one of the world’s most important athletic competitions – the football World Cup. But while hundreds of thousands of spectators will flock to stadiums throughout Russia and to television screens everywhere in the world, many in Russia will continue to be physically assaulted, arbitrarily detained, tortured, prosecuted, and discriminated against based on their political beliefs, professional activity, sexual orientation or gender. In this section, you will find examples of the most flagrant examples of abuses perpetrated in Russia : the arrest of Oyub Titiev, head of the Grozny office of the Human Rights Centre « Memorial », on trumped up charges of drug possession, discrimination of women, LGBT community, migrants, persecution of Crimean and Ukrainian activists in annexed Crimean. One of the most famous Ukrainian political prisoner filmmaker Oleg Sentsov on 14 May 2018 announed hunger strike demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. His life is at serious risk.

Just last month, FIFA issued a statement on the protection “FIFA Statement on Human Rights Defenders and Media Representatives” that builds upon its 2017 policy on human rights. In the latter statement, FIFA vowed to “use reasonable efforts to use its leverage with third parties, including the relevant government, … , to contribute to protecting the rights of human rights defenders and media representatives.” Moreover, recently, FIFA launched a complaints’ mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists.

In the context of its active policy to be more vocal about human rights violations in counties it holds its events, tt is high time that FIFA follow through on its commitment before it is too late to save Titiev, Sentsov and more than 150 other political prisoners of Russia. Read full article here.

Read the full article here.

Currently detained on trumped-up charges, Oyub Titiev took over Natalia Estemirova’s work as head of Human Rights Centre "Memorial" in Chechnya. He was arrested on 9 January 2018 and subsequently charged with possession of drugs that were planted on him. He is facing 10 years in prison while investigation keeps committing blatant violations of procedural norms and in a context when Chechnya’s highest leadership publicly calls human rights defenders "enemies" that have no place in Chechnya.

Save Human Rights Defenders who took over murdered Natalia Estemirova’s work

"Are we really going to allow this to happen ? We couldn’t save my mother but we can save Oyub, and we can save Memorial. #SaveOyub"

Lana Estemirova
Sign the petition to demand the immediate release of Oyub Titiev !

Read the open letter adressed to FIFA organization.

Read the full article here.

Kadyrov’s campaign of harassment, intimidation and physical violence not only targets human rights defenders and activists. Last year, he began a public campaign of abuse against Chechnya’s gay community that has resulted in several deaths, and multiple cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and forced expulsion of this other unwanted segment of the population. While the rate of violence has tampered in light of international pressure it has far from ended, and has not been investigated by the authorities to any meaningful degree. With the endorsement from the highest Federal levels, where a law prohibiting “Gay Propaganda” was adopted in 2014, those directing verbal or physical attacks against the LGBT community operate with impunity under the guise of a moral authority endowed to them by the Russian legislature.

On 1 May LGBTI activists were arrested for displaying rainbow banners in a public demonstration. Dozens of persons have been convicted in the last 5 years for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”(forbidden since 2013 by law of the Russian Federation)

The opening of the football Wolrd Cup marks one month of Oleg Sentsov hunger strike

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who opposed the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia, was arrested in May 2014 in relation to alleged activities conducted in Crimea. He was treated as Russian citizen despite holding Ukrainian citizenship. Moreover, there have been allegations of torture and severe mistreatment leading to the illegal extraction of depositions which have subsequently been given legal value. On 25 August 2015, a jurisdiction not recognised internationally sentenced him and antifascist activist Alexander Kolchenko to respectively 20 and 10 years of severe regime detention. Read the full article here.

While in Crimea human rights situation is particularly alarming, in fact Russia extended to the peninsula its repressive legislation applied against any Russian citizen who challenges the official version of history, interpretation of morality and tradictions or political opinion imposed by the government.

Since re-election in 2012, Russian president has overseen the creation of 50 new laws designed to strangle opposition voices and raise the level of fear and self-control in the society, according to new research by FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). Their fields of application and thematics vary just as much as the harshness of sentences. Presented in chronological order, a table summarizes the fifty laws and their consequences in the lives of Russian citizens.
The new laws and regulations, introduced during Putin’s most recent term in office, range from increased surveillance and censorship powers, to laws banning “questioning the integrity of the Russian nation” - effectively banning criticism of Russia’s presence in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea - broad laws on “extremism” that grant authorities powers to crack down on political and religious freedom, to imposing certain views on Russian history through forbidding to think differently.

“In Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, Putin’s Russia acts with total impunity. But what happens inside Russia, doesn’t make the main lines in Western media, yet it is not less dramatic: we are assisting to the total crack-down on civil society and free expression. Without critical voices inside, chances that Russia ever changes its attitude abroad are slim.”

Sacha Koulaeva

Are you welcome in Russia? Russia promises hospitality to FIFA world cup guests – but not everybody is welcome in this country today. ADC Memorial answers a few question before the World Cup begining. Read the original version here.

With one month to go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia the global ‘World Cup of Peace’ campaign launches today, Monday 14 May. The campaign brings together Syrian organisations with international human rights and humanitarian organisations in a joint effort to help Syrians suffering from 8 years of conflict. The aim of the campaign is to encourage President Putin of Russia to use the moment of hosting the World Cup to show the world what he’ll do to support peace in Syria, rather than the ongoing violence and atrocities against civilians. The Russian government has played a key role in supporting the Syrian government to pursue a war that has left more than 400,000 Syrians dead and forced more than 11 million Syrians from their homes. Read the original article on Peter Gabriel’s website, World of Peace campaign ambassador.

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