High Dimension

Human Rights in Russia: OSCE Moscow Mechanism Expert Report, Joint Statement

I make this statement on behalf of the following 38 participating States which invoked the Moscow Mechanism (human dimension) on 28 July: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia , Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden , Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Professor Nußberger, on behalf of the requesting States, I would like to thank you for your work as a rapporteur within the framework of the Moscow Mechanism of the OSCE. We are very grateful to you for your professional and meticulous approach to your mandate, the rigorous methodology you applied and the substantial report you produced. Your integrity and dedication to human rights and fundamental freedoms are evident in your report. We hope that the 57 OSCE participating States will do justice to your report by carefully considering your conclusions and recommendations, which are addressed not only to the Russian Federation but also to the OSCE participating States and the international community in wider.

Mr. Chairman, we have invoked the Moscow Mechanism because we have identified the situation in the Russian Federation as a particularly serious threat to compliance with the human dimension provisions of the OSCE as set out in various documents. The terms of reference provided were substantial, reflecting the scale and gravity of the alleged human rights violations and abuses.

It is clear from the report that we were right to be concerned. The report is based on an in-depth analysis of the legislation of the Russian Federation, extensive documentation, including decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, opinions of the Venice Commission, statements of autonomous institutions of the OSCE and other international organizations, as well as reports and testimonies. by civil society. Regarding legislative changes in the areas of freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, the report concludes: “Russian legislation is obsessed with restricting these rights increasingly more. […] Russian legislation in this area is manifestly incompatible with the rule of law. On the contrary, the multitude of detailed provisions gives the authorities wide discretionary powers and thus constitutes the basis of arbitrariness. The report goes on to shed light on the correlation between peaceful protests and repressive legislation: “Whenever there have been mass protests […]new restrictive laws followed.

The report gives us some answers on why the Russian Federation suppresses human rights and fundamental freedoms. “At the end of the day, it’s about bringing civil society into the vertical of power.”

Silencing civil society puts Russian authorities in a position where they consider themselves free to respond to citizens. Moreover, with its repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Russian Federation has helped prepare the ground for its war of aggression against Ukraine. The report sets out the thinking of the Russian government: “Restrictive measures are deemed necessary in order not to be disturbed during the preparation for the war or after it has begun. This explains the wave of repressive measures in Russia just before, but especially after February 24, 2022.”

Mr. President, the Russian government and administration not only excessively restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, but actively work to their detriment to propagate war. In this context, the report analyzes the speeches made by President Putin which characterize civil society as a “fifth column” and dehumanize those who are considered enemies, thus revealing “an attitude of deep hatred”.

The report also cites several startling examples of opinion-forming pressure, for example towards students and artists, and excessive violence against critical civil society activists, journalists and other media actors, such as the case of Grigory Yudin, political scientist and sociologist. “On February 24, 2022, he was arrested during an anti-war demonstration in Moscow and beaten in a police van until he lost consciousness. Numerous other cases have been documented by human rights organizations who say the level of violence has dramatically increased – many interviewees drew parallels with the violent crackdown on protests in Belarus.

Not all violence is committed by state officials, the report points out, but it goes on to state that “[t]The Russian state implicitly supports this development through its lack of protection and its ineffectiveness in cases related to freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression is also particularly affected by the war. “Especially the extension of espionage […] and therefore of “high treason” […] below […] the criminal code […] makes journalistic work impossible during the ongoing war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

Importantly, the report highlights specific ramifications for women and members of the LGBTQI+ community. For example, the report describes gender-based violence against women protesters. Women “are in a particularly vulnerable position, especially if they are detained alone. Sexualized violence is a relatively new phenomenon, more noticeable since February 2022.”

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, “internal repression and external war are connected to each other as in a communicating tube”. May this conclusion of the report be a lesson and a warning to all of us. It is a timely reminder of one of the cornerstones of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act on the universal scope of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for which is an essential factor for peace, justice and welfare. What is at stake is nothing less than the OSCE concept of comprehensive security. It is our common duty to properly defend the values ​​and principles of this organization.

Once again, I offer our sincere thanks to Professor Nußberger.