Third round of EU-Russia Consultations on human rights: "Time to test pledges"

02/03/2006
Press release
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FIDH welcomes the holding of the third round of consultations on human rights between the EU and Russia, in Vienna, on March 3rd 2006 and calls on the Russian authorities to show concrete steps in implementing their pledges to improve their human rights record.

Indeed, since the beginning of this process of consultations in March 2005, the human rights situation has not improved in Russia. Worse, the harassment of human rights defenders has notably aggravated:

- in January 2006, the new law on NGOs was adopted, which drastically limits the possibility for international NGOs to operate in the country, toughens the registration requirements for local NGOs and reinforces the possibility of interference of the authorities in the activities of these NGOs.

- On February 3rd, M. Stanislav Dmietrievsky, Programme Director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was condemned to two years suspended imprisonment for « incitement to hatred » after having published articles of Chechen separatist leaders calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

These two events reveal the Russian authorities’ tendency to authoritarianism. They further contradict the joint EU and Russian recognition expressed at the end of the second round of the consultations, of the importance of NGOs in promoting the respect for human rights. [1]

For Sidiki Kaba, President of FIDH, « the Russians have demonstrated clear contradiction between words and action. This round of consultations should be the time for the EU to set the record straight with Russia, if they want the process to remain credible ».

FIDH further welcomes clear improvements in the involvement of NGOs in parallel of the consultations, including through parallel hearings with civil society to be held today. We however regret the reluctance of the Russian authorities to be involved in these parallel hearings, and see is as a symptom of their reluctance to engage with human rights organisations at large.

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