April 8, 2021
We, the undersigned, are shocked and troubled by the most recent news of Alexei Navalny’s condition in prison.
Russia’s leading opposition figure is reported to suffer severe back pain with losing sensitivity in parts of his legs. It is no more than six months since he survived a vicious poisoning attack with a nerve agent that has long-term crippling effects on his health. In prison, he is systematically denied any medical treatment. On top, prison guards wake him up every hour at night, a practice amounting to torture by sleep deprivation according to his lawyers. This is why medical experts called on the Russian authorities to allow Mr. Navalny’s treatment and why he himself now resorted to a hunger strike. Let’s not forget: Mr. Navalny’s incarceration itself is a travesty of justice – he was formally sent to prison for not checking in with Russian authorities on a fabricated case (as confirmed by European Court of Human Rights) when he was recuperating in Germany from poisoning and subsequent coma.
Russian authorities with its secret services tried to kill Alexei Navalny last August, they may now be attempting the same, in a slower, even more cynical way.
Europe has offered Alexei Navalny a place to recover from the attempt at his life. Specialized labs in Germany, France and Sweden confirmed the assassination attempt used Novichok, an internationally banned chemical weapon. Angela Merkel personally met Mr Navalny in hospital and many other Western leaders expressed their solidarity after the poisoning attack. We need to intervene again.
We urge Russia to immediately allow medical treatment of Alexei Navalny and release him from prison. We call on the EU Council as well as EU member states’ leaders to reach out to Russian authorities to request the immediate release of Alexei Navalny, which was mandated by European Court of Human Rights’ decision in February 2021. In addition, we demand the EU Council task EU ambassador to Russia to conduct, together partners from the UK, Canada and the US, a visit of the prison facility and meet Alexei Navalny. It is critical now that Alexei Navalny’s fate became the symbol of injustice many thousands face because of increasing brutality of Russian regime against its own citizens.
In December 2020, the EU launched its Global Human Rights Sanction Regime modelled on so-called Magnitsky Act. This law has been inspired by one Sergei Magnitsky, a brave Russian lawyer who was tortured to death in prison in 2009 – he was systematically denied treatment when he developed a serious medical condition. We still can act now in case of Alexei Navalny so we avoid commemorating later.
Marek HILSER, Senator, Czech Republic
Andrius KUBILIUS, MEP, EPP, Lithuania
Lukas WAGENKNECHT, Senator, Czech Republic
Žygimantas PAVILIONIS, MP, Lithuania
Miroslav BALATKA, Senator, Czech Republic
André GATTOLIN, Senator, France
Mikulas BEK, Senator, Czech Republic
Nicolae ŞTEFĂNUȚĂ, MEP, Renew, Romania
David SMOLJAK, Senator, Czech Republic
Petras AUŠTREVIČIUS, MEP, Renew, Lithuania
Tomas FIALA, Senator, Czech Republic
Liudas MAŽYLIS, MEP, EPP Lithuania
Zdenek NYTRA, Senator, Czech Republic
Dace MELBĀRDE, MEP, ECR, Latvia
Jan SOBOTKA, Senator, Czech Republic
Matas MALDEIKIS, MP, Lithuania
Jiri RUZICKA, Senator, Czech Republic
Bernard GUETTA, MEP, Renew, France
Jaromira VITKOVA, Senator, Czech Republic
Rasa JUKNEVIČIENĖ, MEP, EPP, Lithuania
Petr OREL, Senator, Czech Republic
Tomasz FRANKOWSKI, MEP, EPP, Poland
Miroslava NEMCOVA, Senator, Czech Republic
Hermann TERTSCH, MEP, ECR, Spain
Premysl RABAS, Senator, Czech Republic
Aušra MALDEIKIENĖ, MEP, EPP, Lithuania
Ladislav KOS, Senator, Czech Republic
Attila ARA-KOVÁCS, MEP, S&D, Hungary
Sarka JELINKOVA, Senator, Czech Republic
Erik MARQUARDT, MEP, Greens, Germany
Pavel FISCHER, Senator, Czech Republic
Pernille WEISS, MEP, EPP, Denmark
Helena LANGSADLOVA, MP, Czech Republic
Roberts ZĪLE, MEP, ECR, Latvia
Jan LIPAVSKY, MP, Czech Republic
Klemen GROŠELJ, MEP, Renew, Slovenia
Pavel ZACEK, MP, Czech Republic
Riho TERRAS, MEP, EPP, Estonia
Ondrej BENESIK, MP, Czech Republic
Miriam LEXMANN, MEP, EPP, Slovakia
Frantisek KOPRIVA, MP, Czech Republic
Sandra KALNIETE, MEP, EPP, Latvia
Petr GAZDIK, MP, Czech Republic
Jerzy BUZEK, MEP, EPP, Poland
Tomas MARTINEK, MP, Czech Republic
Janina OCHOJSKA, MEP, EPP, Poland
Jan BARTOSEK, MP, Czech Republic
Eugen TOMAC, MEP, EPP, Romania
Jan FARSKY, MP, Czech Republic
Ivan ŠTEFANEC, MEP, EPP, Slovakia
Roman SKLENAK, MP, Czech Republic
Krzysztof HETMAN, MEP, EPP, Poland
Frantisek VACHA, MP, Czech Republic
Ivars IJABS, MEP, Renew, Latvia
Marek VYBORNY, MP, Czech Republic
Franc BOGOVIČ, MEP, EPP, Slovenia
Zbynek STANJURA, MP, Czech Republic
Radvilė MORKŪNAITĖ-MIKULĖNIENĖ, MP, Lithuania
Petr FIALA, MP, Czech Republic
Raphaël GLUCKSMANN, MEP, S&D, France
Vít RAKUSAN, MP, Czech Republic
Juozas OLEKAS, MEP, S&D, Lithuania
Jaroslav VYMAZAL, MP, Czech Republic
Assita KANKO, MEP, ECR, Belgium
Adela SIPOVA, Senator, Czech Republic
Radosław SIKORSKI, MEP, EPP, Poland
Róża THUN UND HOHENSTEIN, MEP, EPP, Poland
Javier NART, MEP, Renew, Spain
Andrzej HALICKI, MEP, EPP, Poland
Alexander ALEXANDROV YORDANOV, MEP, EPP, Bulgaria
Ondřej KOVAŘÍK, MEP, Renew, Czech Republic
Andreas SCHIEDER, MEP, S&D, Austria
Leopoldo LÓPEZ GIL, MEP, EPP, Spain
Sergey LAGODINSKY, MEP, Greens, Germany
Antonio LÓPEZ-ISTÚRIZ WHITE, MEP, EPP, Spain
Marketa GREGOROVA, MEP, Greens, Czech Republic
Lolita ČIGĀNE, MP, Latvia
Marko MIHKELSON, MP, Estonia
Renata CHMELOVA, Czech Republic
Bogdan KLICH, Senator, Republic of Poland
Transatlantic Interparliamentary Statement on Unprecedented Mass Arrest of Russian Pro-Democracy Leaders on March 13, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2021
Honourable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, OQ, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights
Natalia Arno, Free Russia Foundation
TRANSATLANTIC INTERPARLIAMENTARY STATEMENT
On unprecedented mass arrest of Russian pro-democracy leaders on March 13, 2021
“We, the undersigned members of the foreign affairs committees of legislatures around the world – the duly elected democratic voices of our constituents and countries – unreservedly condemn the unprecedented mass arrest of Russian pro-democracy leaders.
A violation of the Russian constitution and of the country’s international legal obligations, these unjust and arbitrary arrests are an assault on the last bastion of the Russian democratic movement. United in common cause, we call for an end to Putin’s punitive persecution and prosecutions of Russian civil society leaders, the release of all political prisoners, and the imposition of targeted Magnitsky sanctions against Russia’s architects of repression.
The crimes perpetrated by Putin’s regime against the Russian people and against the international community have been deadly and are well-documented. Left unchecked, its internal repression has often morphed into external aggression. Wars, murders, theft, embezzlement, nuclear blackmail, disinformation, election interference — they are so numerous and now so well-known, that we feel no need to enumerate all of them in this letter. Under the cover of Covid restrictions, we have seen a further intensification of these trends.
Last year, Putin’s regime illegally amended the Russian constitution, executing a constitutional coup, allowing Putin to stay in power indefinitely and thereby formalizing the Russian transition to authoritarianism.
In January, he arrested Aleksey Navalny, who was punished with a nearly three-year prison term for not meeting his parole obligations because he was out of the country convalescing from a state-sponsored assassination attempt. Putin then brutally suppressed the nation-wide protests that emerged in Navalny’s support, arbitrarily arresting thousands, and launching criminal prosecutions against them.
On March 13th, security services entered a perfectly lawful Congress of elected municipal deputies and detained nearly 200 people for not adhering to the Kremlin’s command of how to interact with local constituents. In today’s Russia, disagreeing with Putin is not tolerated, and those who do find themselves in jail or worse.
Some of those detained included elected leaders like Ilya Yashin and Maxim Reznik, pro-democracy reformers Andrey Pivovarov and Anastasia Burakova, and popular politician Vladimir Kara-Murza. Mr. Kara-Murza is a top public intellectual and opposition leader whose transformative work on behalf of the Russian people has had a global resonance. His vision and values – eloquently conveyed with a uniquely compelling moral clarity and commitment, often before our respective legislatures – led to his earlier being targeted by the regime for assassination, attempts on his life that he survived twice. The work of such courageous leaders continues to be a source of inspiration in our pursuit of collective peace, security, and dignity for all.
For a society to succeed it must have a set of principles and values that guides it. Most notably, this includes a legal system that honors the rights of all its people and not solely for those who deem themselves leaders and the sycophants who profit from them.
Sadly, these recent developments demonstrate yet again that only Putin’s criminality and impunity prevail in Russia today. The way the regime runs its politics is indistinguishable from the way it runs its foreign policy and its business dealings. To indulge such malign behavior by the Kremlin toward those it disagrees with is to encourage its corrosive behavior in all these other areas.
The democracies of the world have a choice: maintain a normal relationship with a rogue state, continuing to send the message that its treatment of its own citizens is to be overlooked, and its malicious activities are to be condoned. Or, sending a clear and compelling message: that until the Kremlin reverses its troubling trajectory, the current status quo will be unacceptable. This includes targeted sanctions against Putin and his corrupt and criminal cronies – such as canceling access to our banking system, business ties, and safe harbor in our best neighborhoods and schools – ensuring that they cannot enjoy the liberties in our countries that they deny their compatriots in theirs.
For the sake of a free Russia and a free world, we trust democracies will make the right choice.”
Rasa Jukneviciene, Member of the European Parliament
Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament
Miriam Lexmann, Member of the European Parliament
Pavel Fischer, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Senate of the Czech Republic
Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia
Richards Kols, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Seimas of the Republic of Latvia
Žygimantas Pavilions, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Bogdan Klich, Senator, Chairman of the Foreign and European Union Committee of the Senate of the Republic of Poland
Eerik Niiles Kross, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia
Emanuelis Zingeris, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Benjamin L. Cardin, Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation; Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission)
Bill Keating, Member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Relations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment
Brian Fitzpatrick, Member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Relations
Kimberley Kitching, Senator, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, Deputy Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Parliament of Australia
Chris Bryant, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament
Bob Seely, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament
Free Russia Foundation Calls for Urgent and Concrete Steps to Stop Putin’s Global Assassination Campaigns
Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian pro-democracy advocate, was closely tracked by an FSB assassination squad when he suffered perplexing and near-fatal medical emergencies that sent him into coma in 2015 and 2017, establishes a new investigation by the Bellingcat group.
Documents uncovered by Bellingcat show that this is the same assassination squad implicated in the August 2020 assassination attempt on Alexey Navalny and whose member has inadvertently confirmed the operation in a phone call with Navalny.
Bellingcat has also established the FSB unit’s involvement in the murder of three Russian activists, all of whom died under unusual but similar circumstances.
Taken together, these independent nongovernment investigations establish the fact of systemic, large-scale extrajudicial assassinations carried out by Putin’s government against its critics inside and outside of Russia, including with chemical weapons banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to formally investigate and prosecute Putin’s government for these crimes.
Free Russia Foundation calls on the Biden Administration to direct the FBI to release investigation materials surrounding the assassination attempts against Vladimir Kara-Murza that have been denied to him thus far.
Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to articulate measures to compel Russia to free Alexey Navalny from his illegal incarceration where his life remains in dire danger.
PROGRAMS> more programs
The Civil Society in Russia continually struggles to find the space to truly focus on mission-driven activities.
Russia is quickly becoming a closed society, with virtually no independent media, rule of law. In addition there are many restrictions on free speech, assembly, attacks on political opposition and minorities.
The dialogue between civil societies, intercultural communication and business contacts forms an essential bridge between Russia and Western countries.
The Vision of Russia is the flagship program of The Free Russia Foundation.
The Free Russia Foundation depends on your charitable gift to continue our work. Your contribution is tax-deductible and helps us continue our aid programs and advocacy campaigns. With your help, we are building hope for a democratic future for Russia.