External threat

Sep 18 2015

In Eastern Ukraine the shooting does not cease, in occupied Crimea the main “tourists” have long been Russian tanks and other heavy weapons, Russia pointedly puts the UN Security Council veto on the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate the disaster downed “Boeing” that is actually an admission of guilt for the deaths of nearly three hundred innocent people.

A London court has openly said that the murder of Litvinenko was personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda, meanwhile, continues to stubbornly stand on its own, broadcasting in various ways, two mutual theses: “It’s not us” and “we just defended.”

However, the Russian authorities, and after them, the media, have, for several years, successfully proven to townsfolk that any meanness and crime are justified by the unprecedented state of “external threat”. It turns out that the United States is to blame for all that today makes Russia an “organized” orange revolution” at the Russian border, supporting and continuing to support the opposition, cultivate a” fifth column “, lobby their interests in Russia” and so on.

As the hysteria on this subject in Russian society, not only does not subside, but is also gaining momentum, let’s try to understand one of the most common propaganda theses “The US organized Maidan in Ukraine.”

First, it is worth saying that the statement that the United States doesn’t support anyone and will never support anyone, is untrue. World reality is that there are no Saints – every country supports movements in other countries that are close to them, but does not go with the defined framework and rules. Revolution will also occur where there are strong and appropriate sentiments in society. Without them it is impossible to organize a revolution from outside that particular country. For this reason pro-Kosovo rallies in Serbia in 2013 could not develop into a revolution, as well as opposition rallies in Belarus in 2011 which did not lead to the victory of the “Revolution through social networks” not only because of the repressive machine of Lukashenko, but also because, his popularity was really high among the people.

In short, the revolution can be supported, but not organized, and both Russia and its opponents are doing it well. The “Winner” is the one whose interests most correspond to the real aspirations of the people of a country, that’s all. “Blood” is a revolution that happens when the dictator, against the will of the people, usurped power and does not want to leave. Unfortunately, practice shows that dictators do not really go without a lot of blood.

Thus, it is no secret that the United States at the diplomatic level supported the Maidan in Ukraine, but not to organize or hold it they simply would not do. Ukrainians took to the Maidan, because corruption and gangster lawlessness under the regime of Yanukovych rolled over, and to top it all, he sharply and severely ruined the dream of the majority of Ukrainians, which he himself had previously entertained. Add to that the brutal crackdown on students’ rally; it becomes clear why the Ukrainian revolutionaries were set up so strongly.

Some advocates go further and argue that the very mentality of Ukrainians was also a product of the influence of the United States. In a sense, this is true: the value of life and human dignity, the desire to live by the law and not by the bandit concept of law, protest against corruption, the corruption of judges and officials, and the arbitrariness of the siloviki, the value of freedom as such are all indicators of Western, and not Soviet mentality. It is clear that the mentality was formed over decades, and there are some absolutely legitimate means of broadcasting values through culture and education.

CCt2iZFWEAMhIxy

On the other hand, is the mood of the inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine not a product of Russian influence? The only difference being that in their “wards” Russian political technologists produced no values, but fears, moreover, false fears. Do not forget the fact that the flag and the symbols of the DNR arose long before the Maidan and that throughout Eastern Ukraine Cossacks and other groups acted, distributing books about “Ukrainian fascism” and in this manner acted Russian propaganda. If we talk about the clash of the two poles of influence on the public mood – Russian and American – it cannot be denied that the US was at least more honest, because it aired universal values, not invented fears.

The next argument is that Russian propaganda has, for several years, fanned the fear of “foreign agents.” Many subjects of propaganda films have intended to illustrate the central idea of the Kremlin – “financed by the US, Russian NGOs currently allow too much.”

If you understand the issue, it appears that this is a blatant lie, or we will have to admit that financed by Russia, NGOs can afford in the US and Europe much more than “too much”. For example, in America there are a variety of affiliated Russian NGOs formally aimed at improving Russian-American relations, that is, in fact, the NGOs, which in Russia would be called foreign agents. However, these organizations exist in the United States quite easily, and there is no pressure against them.

The members of these NGOs are very active. Their members come to the US-Ukrainian conferences at local universities, behave defiantly, organize provocations actively debated with the speakers and even publicly called them liars. Members of these organizations are trying to disrupt any pro-Ukrainian activities, including marches, and are making alternative actions, including in support of the pro-Russian militants, in short aggressively and openly spreading Russian propaganda worldwide.

Similar actions are taking place in other countries. Recall how an unknown person tried to disrupt, by shouting pro-Kremlin slogans, the speech the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the Institute of Europe at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Russian security services behave in the Baltic States pretty cheeky. I’m not talking about the many Kremlin “trolls”; mudslinging authors of different articles other than Putin’s propaganda.

And it refers only to ordinary propagandists, not professional spies, who also turn out to be numerous. Take for example the scandal exposing the ten Russian agents in 2010, the year or winter spy scandal in New York. But it pales in comparison to recently published data on the bribery of politicians and Putin’s secret service in the European Parliament and the parliaments of some European countries.

So, summarizing the above, the question arises: why in this case has the United States or Europe not built up arms and seized foreign territory under the pretext of protection from the invisible but tangible pressure from Moscow? Why has it happened that Russia has turned out to be so “sensitive” to the much milder manifestations of “soft power”?

In my opinion, the answer here lies in the phenomenon of the perception of bias. The fundamental difference between the United States from Russia is that the United States government does not to get involved in the foreign opposition – real or imaginary – of ordinary people, in other words, does not solve their problems at the expense of society. In normal countries the state’s task is to ensure a calm and peaceful life for its citizens, even if in some moments it would be advantageous to resort to the help of citizens, violating peace. However, the Americans are willing to take risks and to allow the Russian agents of influence to openly promote their views, but do not allow aggression and “witch hunt” into its society.

Just imagine what would happen if US media broadcast, local pro-Russian propaganda coming out in protest with banners DNR “is a foreign agent”, “it is financed by Russia”, “they are traitors, and a fifth column” “Ten friends of terrorists” and all the like. Imagine if all of these revelations were accompanied by the angry complaints about the fact that these “enemies and traitors” act with impunity, because they not formally violate the law. To what hatred of the Russians came from the Americans in this case?

However, the Americans have not fallen so far as to begin to poison the people, borrowing the rhetoric of Kremlin’s “Goebbels-TV.” For centuries, developed in the United States, the balance between private and public has been too expensive for the American nation, to put it in jeopardy because of a few strange people with no less bizarre posters. And in that respect – and to their own people – and to the “enemy” this is a special honour.

The situation is different in Russia, where people have always been used, not as an end in itself, but as a tool that is easy for the state to sacrifice their interests. “Cannon fodder”, “consumable” – the attitude of the Russian authorities to their own people has led to the extraordinary aggression in Russian society.

The authorities feared the “Bolotnaya” protests in 2012, and incited one side of the people against the other. The Russian government is frightened by the repetition in Russia of a Ukrainian Maidan, and incited the Russians against the brotherly Ukrainian people. Afraid of American influence the Russian government threw society into the abyss of militant chauvinism. One need only recall the recently published, in social networks, “manual for informers”, which in plain text said: “It is foolish to rely on the intelligence services in this situation. The special services should be the whole of Russia. ”

This mobilization of society might at some stage be profitable, but it has one very significant drawback in a country that has nothing to defend. There is no society – one big “secret service”. There is no peace and no quiet people, instead there is one big war. No stability – only economic collapse and calls “to survive under the pressure of the enemy.” No joy and friendship – only aggression and hatred. There is no truth, no freedom, no human happiness, because “consumables” cannot be happy, and should not. And this means that such a country has no future.

By Ksenia Kirillova
Translated by Steve Doyle

A London court has openly said that the murder of Litvinenko was personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda, meanwhile, continues to stubbornly stand on its own, broadcasting in various ways, two mutual theses: “It’s not us” and “we just defended.”

However, the Russian authorities, and after them, the media, have, for several years, successfully proven to townsfolk that any meanness and crime are justified by the unprecedented state of “external threat”. It turns out that the United States is to blame for all that today makes Russia an “organized” orange revolution” at the Russian border, supporting and continuing to support the opposition, cultivate a” fifth column “, lobby their interests in Russia” and so on.

As the hysteria on this subject in Russian society, not only does not subside, but is also gaining momentum, let’s try to understand one of the most common propaganda theses “The US organized Maidan in Ukraine.”

First, it is worth saying that the statement that the United States doesn’t support anyone and will never support anyone, is untrue. World reality is that there are no Saints – every country supports movements in other countries that are close to them, but does not go with the defined framework and rules. Revolution will also occur where there are strong and appropriate sentiments in society. Without them it is impossible to organize a revolution from outside that particular country. For this reason pro-Kosovo rallies in Serbia in 2013 could not develop into a revolution, as well as opposition rallies in Belarus in 2011 which did not lead to the victory of the “Revolution through social networks” not only because of the repressive machine of Lukashenko, but also because, his popularity was really high among the people.

In short, the revolution can be supported, but not organized, and both Russia and its opponents are doing it well. The “Winner” is the one whose interests most correspond to the real aspirations of the people of a country, that’s all. “Blood” is a revolution that happens when the dictator, against the will of the people, usurped power and does not want to leave. Unfortunately, practice shows that dictators do not really go without a lot of blood.

Thus, it is no secret that the United States at the diplomatic level supported the Maidan in Ukraine, but not to organize or hold it they simply would not do. Ukrainians took to the Maidan, because corruption and gangster lawlessness under the regime of Yanukovych rolled over, and to top it all, he sharply and severely ruined the dream of the majority of Ukrainians, which he himself had previously entertained. Add to that the brutal crackdown on students’ rally; it becomes clear why the Ukrainian revolutionaries were set up so strongly.

Some advocates go further and argue that the very mentality of Ukrainians was also a product of the influence of the United States. In a sense, this is true: the value of life and human dignity, the desire to live by the law and not by the bandit concept of law, protest against corruption, the corruption of judges and officials, and the arbitrariness of the siloviki, the value of freedom as such are all indicators of Western, and not Soviet mentality. It is clear that the mentality was formed over decades, and there are some absolutely legitimate means of broadcasting values through culture and education.

CCt2iZFWEAMhIxy

On the other hand, is the mood of the inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine not a product of Russian influence? The only difference being that in their “wards” Russian political technologists produced no values, but fears, moreover, false fears. Do not forget the fact that the flag and the symbols of the DNR arose long before the Maidan and that throughout Eastern Ukraine Cossacks and other groups acted, distributing books about “Ukrainian fascism” and in this manner acted Russian propaganda. If we talk about the clash of the two poles of influence on the public mood – Russian and American – it cannot be denied that the US was at least more honest, because it aired universal values, not invented fears.

The next argument is that Russian propaganda has, for several years, fanned the fear of “foreign agents.” Many subjects of propaganda films have intended to illustrate the central idea of the Kremlin – “financed by the US, Russian NGOs currently allow too much.”

If you understand the issue, it appears that this is a blatant lie, or we will have to admit that financed by Russia, NGOs can afford in the US and Europe much more than “too much”. For example, in America there are a variety of affiliated Russian NGOs formally aimed at improving Russian-American relations, that is, in fact, the NGOs, which in Russia would be called foreign agents. However, these organizations exist in the United States quite easily, and there is no pressure against them.

The members of these NGOs are very active. Their members come to the US-Ukrainian conferences at local universities, behave defiantly, organize provocations actively debated with the speakers and even publicly called them liars. Members of these organizations are trying to disrupt any pro-Ukrainian activities, including marches, and are making alternative actions, including in support of the pro-Russian militants, in short aggressively and openly spreading Russian propaganda worldwide.

Similar actions are taking place in other countries. Recall how an unknown person tried to disrupt, by shouting pro-Kremlin slogans, the speech the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the Institute of Europe at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Russian security services behave in the Baltic States pretty cheeky. I’m not talking about the many Kremlin “trolls”; mudslinging authors of different articles other than Putin’s propaganda.

And it refers only to ordinary propagandists, not professional spies, who also turn out to be numerous. Take for example the scandal exposing the ten Russian agents in 2010, the year or winter spy scandal in New York. But it pales in comparison to recently published data on the bribery of politicians and Putin’s secret service in the European Parliament and the parliaments of some European countries.

So, summarizing the above, the question arises: why in this case has the United States or Europe not built up arms and seized foreign territory under the pretext of protection from the invisible but tangible pressure from Moscow? Why has it happened that Russia has turned out to be so “sensitive” to the much milder manifestations of “soft power”?

In my opinion, the answer here lies in the phenomenon of the perception of bias. The fundamental difference between the United States from Russia is that the United States government does not to get involved in the foreign opposition – real or imaginary – of ordinary people, in other words, does not solve their problems at the expense of society. In normal countries the state’s task is to ensure a calm and peaceful life for its citizens, even if in some moments it would be advantageous to resort to the help of citizens, violating peace. However, the Americans are willing to take risks and to allow the Russian agents of influence to openly promote their views, but do not allow aggression and “witch hunt” into its society.

Just imagine what would happen if US media broadcast, local pro-Russian propaganda coming out in protest with banners DNR “is a foreign agent”, “it is financed by Russia”, “they are traitors, and a fifth column” “Ten friends of terrorists” and all the like. Imagine if all of these revelations were accompanied by the angry complaints about the fact that these “enemies and traitors” act with impunity, because they not formally violate the law. To what hatred of the Russians came from the Americans in this case?

However, the Americans have not fallen so far as to begin to poison the people, borrowing the rhetoric of Kremlin’s “Goebbels-TV.” For centuries, developed in the United States, the balance between private and public has been too expensive for the American nation, to put it in jeopardy because of a few strange people with no less bizarre posters. And in that respect – and to their own people – and to the “enemy” this is a special honour.

The situation is different in Russia, where people have always been used, not as an end in itself, but as a tool that is easy for the state to sacrifice their interests. “Cannon fodder”, “consumable” – the attitude of the Russian authorities to their own people has led to the extraordinary aggression in Russian society.

The authorities feared the “Bolotnaya” protests in 2012, and incited one side of the people against the other. The Russian government is frightened by the repetition in Russia of a Ukrainian Maidan, and incited the Russians against the brotherly Ukrainian people. Afraid of American influence the Russian government threw society into the abyss of militant chauvinism. One need only recall the recently published, in social networks, “manual for informers”, which in plain text said: “It is foolish to rely on the intelligence services in this situation. The special services should be the whole of Russia. ”

This mobilization of society might at some stage be profitable, but it has one very significant drawback in a country that has nothing to defend. There is no society – one big “secret service”. There is no peace and no quiet people, instead there is one big war. No stability – only economic collapse and calls “to survive under the pressure of the enemy.” No joy and friendship – only aggression and hatred. There is no truth, no freedom, no human happiness, because “consumables” cannot be happy, and should not. And this means that such a country has no future.

By Ksenia Kirillova
Translated by Steve Doyle

Criminal operations by Russia’s GRU worldwide: expert discussion

May 06 2021

Please join Free Russia Foundation for an expert brief and discussion on latest criminal operations conducted by Russia’s GRU worldwide with:

  • Christo Grozev, Bellingcat— the legendary investigator who uncovered the Kremlin’s involvement, perpetrators and timeline of Navalny’s assassination attempt. 
  • Jakub Janda, Director of the European Values Think Tank (the Czech Republic) where he researches Russia’s hostile influence operations in the West
  • Michael Weiss, Director of Special Investigations at Free Russia Foundation where he leads the Lubyanka Files project, which consists of translating and curating KGB training manuals still used in modern Russia for the purposes of educating Vladimir Putin’s spies.

The event will take place on Tuesday, May 11 from 11 am to 12:30pm New York Time (17:00 in Brussels) and include an extensive Q&A with the audience moderated by Ilya Zaslavskiy, Senior Fellow at Free Russia Foundation and head of Underminers.info, a research project on post-Soviet kleptocracy

The event will be broadcast live at: https://www.facebook.com/events/223365735790798/

  • The discussion will cover Russia’s most recent and ongoing covert violent operations, direct political interference, oligarchic penetration with money and influence; 
  • GRU’s structure and approach to conducting operations in Europe
  • Trends and forecasts on how data availability will impact both, the Kremlin’s operations and their investigation by governments and activists; 
  • EU and national European government response and facilitation of operations on their soil; 
  • Recommendations for effective counter to the security and political threats posed by Russian security services. 

YouTube Against Navalny’s Smart Voting

May 06 2021

On May 6, 2020, at least five YouTube channels belonging to key Russian opposition leaders and platforms received notifications from YouTube that some of their content had been removed due to its being qualified as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

They included: 

Ilya Yashin (343k YouTube subscribers)

Vladimir Milov (218k YouTube subscribers) 

Leonid Volkov (117k YouTube subscribers)

Novaya Gazeta (277k YouTube Subscribers) 

Sota Vision (248k YouTube Subscribers)

Most likely, there are other Russian pro-democracy channels that have received similar notifications at the same time, and we are putting together the list of all affected by this censorship campaign. 

The identical letters received from YouTube by the five account holders stated:

“Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our spam, deceptive practices and scams policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube:

URL: https://votesmart.appspot.com/

YouTube has removed urls from descriptions of videos posted on these accounts that linked to Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting website (votesmart.appspot.com).

By doing this, and to our great shock and disbelief, YouTube has acted to enforce the Kremlin’s policies by qualifying Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting system and its website as “spam, deceptive practices and scams”. 

This action has not only technically disrupted communication for the Russian civil society which is now under a deadly siege by Putin’s regime, but it has rendered a serious and lasting damage to its reputation and legitimacy of Smart Voting approach. 

In reality, Smart Voting system is not a spam, scam or a “deceptive practice”, but instead it’s a fully legitimate system of choosing and supporting candidates in Russian elections who have a chance of winning against the ruling “United Russia” party candidates. There’s absolutely nothing illegal, deceptive or fraudulent about the Smart Voting or any materials on its website.

We don’t know the reasons behind such YouTube actions, but they are an unacceptable suppression of a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the Russian people and help the Kremlin’s suppression of civil rights and freedoms by banning the Smart Voting system and not allowing free political competition with the ruling “United Russia” party. 

This is an extremely dangerous precedent in an environment where opposition activities in Russia are being literally outlawed;  key opposition figures are jailed, exiled, arrested and attacked with criminal investigations; independent election campaigning is prohibited; and social media networks remain among the very few channels still available to the Russian opposition to communicate with the ordinary Russians.

We demand a  swift and decisive action on this matter from the international community, to make sure that YouTube corrects its stance toward Russian opposition channels, and ensures that such suppression of peaceful, legal  pro-democracy voices does not happen again. 

FRF Lauds New US Sanctions Targeting the Kremlin’s Perpetrators in Crimea, Calls for Their Expansion

Apr 15 2021

On April 15, 2021,  President Biden signed new sanctions against a number of officials and agents of the Russian Federation in connection with malign international activities conducted by the Russian government.

The list of individuals sanctioned by the new law includes Leonid Mikhalyuk, director of the Federal Security Service in the Russian-occupied Crimea.

A report issued by Free Russia Foundation, Media Initiative for Human Rights and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union in December 202, identified 16 officials from Russian law enforcement and security agencies as well as the judiciary operating on the territory of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula currently occupied by the Russian Federation. These individuals have been either directly involved or have overseen political persecution of three prominent Crimean human rights defenders – Emir-Usein Kuku, Sever Mustafayev and Emil Kurbedinov.

Leonid Mikhailiuk is one of these officials. He has been directly involved and directed the repressive campaign in the occupied Crimea, including persecution of innocent people on terrorism charges and massive illegal searches. The persecution of Server Mustafayev was conducted under his supervision. As the head of the FSB branch in Crimea, he is in charge of its operation and all operatives working on politically motivated cases are his subordinates. 

Within the extremely centralized system of the Russian security services, Mikhailiuk is clearly at the top rank of organized political persecution and human rights violations.

Free Russia Foundation welcomes the new sanctions and hopes that all other individuals identified in the report will also be held accountable.

Joint Call of Parliamentarians on the condition of Alexei Navalny in prison

Apr 08 2021

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

Mar 25 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2021

Contacts:
Honourable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, OQ, Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights
+1 514.735.8778
Natalia Arno, Free Russia Foundation
+1 202.549.2417

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