Letter to Reinfeldt – raise human rights with Putin

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Stockholm on April 27. We urge Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to discuss with him the difficult situation that human rights defenders in Russia are facing. During the 2009 EU summit Reinfeldt raised this issue with President Medvedev and there is cause for a follow-up.

In connection with Putin’s visit, we are also organising an extra seminar on April 27. Olga Sadovskaya, from the organisation Committee Against Torture in Nizhny Novgorod, will talk about the human rights violations to which people are subjected in their daily life in Chechnya.

Read more about the seminar and sign up

Letter to Prime Minister Reinfeldt

Stockholm April 19, 2011

Dear Fredrik Reinfeldt,

In connection with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Stockholm in late April, Civil Rights Defenders would like to remind you about the continued pressure on human rights defenders in Russia. During the 2009 EU summit with Russia you brought this issue up with President Medvedev and there is cause for a follow-up during the meeting with Prime Minister Putin.

Civil Rights Defenders is concerned about the increasing number of human rights defenders who have been subjected to threats, harassment, assault and murder during the past years. The situation has worsened since July 2009, when Natalia Estemirova, from our partner organization Memorial in Chechnya, was murdered. The perpetrators of the murder have not been brought to justice, and there exists widespread impunity for crimes against human rights defenders.

In Russia’s new hot spot, Dagestan, five lawyers were beaten for performing their profession in 2010. The Dagestani lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova, who represents victims of human rights violations in the North Caucasus, was beaten unconscious at the Khasavyurt police department last June. The perpetrators have been identified but have not been held accountable. Instead, members of the Khasavyurt police department have brought criminal charges for public insult against Mogamedova.

We have observed a continued trend of attempts to silence or obstruct the work of human rights defenders with various methods. The ongoing trial against Oleg Orlov, Chair of Memorial, is a clear example of this. Orlov allegedly slandered Chechen President Kadyrov, when calling the latter politically responsible for the murder of Natalia Estemirova. President Kadyrov addressed death threats to Estemirova on numerous occasions.

Human rights defenders continue to be arrested at rallies for freedom of assembly, which are held in cities throughout Russia on the last day of months with 31 days. The latest example is Igor Kalyapin, Chair of our partner organisation Committee Against Torture. On March 31, Kalyapin was arrested, along with nearly forty others, while monitoring a demonstration in Nizhny Novgorod. Police involvement in this and other cases send a very negative signal to people who peacefully claim respect for their democratic rights and freedoms.

It is important to highlight that the continued and growing pressure on human rights defenders is not limited to those working with human rights violations in the North Caucasus. Journalists and activists across the country, whose work is linked to human rights in various ways such as the environment, organized crime, corruption or ultra-nationalism are also affected.

With this letter we want to ask you to once again show your commitment to human rights defenders in Russia, who are risking their lives on a daily basis to ensure that others get access to their human rights. We want to ask you to demand Prime Minister Putin to improve the security situation of Russian human rights defenders and to stop the impunity for perpetrators of crimes against human rights defenders.

Please do not hesitate to contact my staff or me if you would like to receive more information.

Robert Hårdh,
Executive Director Civil Rights Defenders

Categories: Statements.
Tags: Fredrik Reinfeldt, Human Rights Defenders, Impunity, and Vladimir Putin.
Regions: Sweden and The North Caucasus.