Coalition For Sovereign Elections Calls on the OSCE to Highlight ‘Creeping Annexation’ of Georgia on the Upcoming Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Sep 11 2019

On September 16, 2019, the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM)” will take place in Warsaw.

To the attention of:

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Miroslav Lajčák
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President, George Tsereteli
OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights office Director, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

September 10, 2019

APPEAL

On September 16, 2019, the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM)” will take place in Warsaw. This meeting serves as a platform for the 57 OSCE participating States, the OSCE Partners for Co-operation, OSCE structures, civil society, international organizations and other relevant actors to take stock of the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, discuss associated challenges, share good practices and make recommendations for further improvement.

The Working Group of the “Coalition for Sovereign Elections” – Georgia 2020, express it’s gratitude to the OSCE Permanent Council for the distributed statement covering current situation on the occupation lines in Georgia. At the same time we call on OSCE Leadership as well as the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to include “Ongoing aggression of the Kremlin in Georgia” in the Agenda of the Meeting and respectfully invite the Permanent Representative of Georgia to OSCE H.E. David Dondua to report on events taking place on the so-called border with occupied Tskhinvali region.

Since August 7, 2019 – the eleventh anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war – the occupation regime has been continuously carrying out illegal and unjustified provocations against Georgia. Since the beginning of August, a new wave of borderization and creeping annexation in the Gugutiantkari village has caused Georgian citizens to lose their homes again.

At the moment, the situation has gone beyond the level of provocations that Georgia is used to during the last 11 years of its occupation. The Kremlin-backed unrecognized regime has been directly threatening Georgia with a military conflict for several days, recalling the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. The threats come amid the process of borderization and kidnapping of Georgian citizens (nine people have been kidnapped since the beginning of the August). Soldiers and military equipment of the occupying forces have been stationed directly near the demarcation line.

Recently, occupying forces also closed the checkpoint between Tskhinvali region and territory under Georgian jurisdiction permanently prohibiting the free movement of local citizens. In the last few days, they moved their military point 1.2 kilometers further into Georgian territory, thus expanding their occupation line. The regime has published a map that totally differs from the one that was negotiated by all sides and that is still used by the EU Monitoring Mission. According to this map, more and more Georgian villages will be occupied.

The Russian forces, in cooperation with the KGB of the so-called South Ossetia implement described actions.

As a reminder, “security” of the occupied region of Georgia (so-called South Ossetia) is provided by the Russian Federation. Mr. Oleg Shiran, a former Russian “FSB” officer, heads the KGB of the occupied Tskhinvali region. This means that the Russian government is the only actor responsible for the violations of international law and direct aggression against Georgia. The fact that the new wave of aggression is controlled from the Kremlin is also clearly visible by the campaign of lies in the Russian media actively broadcasting news about “elections” in Abkhazia and “provocations of Georgians.”

Further, the Russian side itself is engaged in provocations. The situation is very tense, more than at any other time since the war in 2008. Georgia is working at all levels to de-escalate situation, as well as to inform the international community about the new developments of unjustified aggression from the side of occupying forces. Without an immediate and
unequivocal response from the international society, which includes the OSCE and other interested actors, the occupying regime will not stop unpunished provocations against a sovereign State.

We respectfully call on participants of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting to highlight these topics during the conference in Warsaw and prepare joint statement and concrete recommendations for Georgian government as well as European institutions on new effective mechanisms to counter aggression of the Kremlin in Georgia and human rights violations that take place on the occupied territory and occupation lines.

The statement is issued on behalf of the “Coalition for Sovereign Elections”:

The working group of “Coalition for Sovereign Elections” consists of well-known Georgian experts, journalists, activists and NGO representatives and take focus on external influence in Georgia. 09.10.2019

Contact person: Egor Kuroptev, Director of the “Free Russia Foundation” on South Caucasus egor.kuroptev@4freerussia.org

  1. Ambassador Valeri Chechelashvili – expert;
  2. Mr. Andro Gotsiridze – Founder of the Cyber Security Studies and Education Center;
  3. Mr. Egor Kuroptev – Representative of the Free Russia Foundation on South Caucasus; author of the Border Zone media project;
  4. Mr. Volodymyr Kopchak – Head of the Southern Caucasian Branch of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS);
  5. Mr. Lasha Khatiashvili – affiliated analyst at the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center;
  6. Mr. Nikolai Levshits – Fellow of the Free Russia Foundation;
  7. Mr. Tengiz Pkhaladze – Senior Fellow of the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies;
  8. Dr. Tornike Sharashenidze – Co-Founder of the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center;
  9. Mr. Vladimer Svanadze – Chairman of the board at the Internet Development Initiative;
  10. Mr. Gela Vasadze – Senior Fellow of the Georgia-Caucasus Strategic Studies Institute;
  11. Mr. Nika Chitadze – expert;
  12. Ms. Teona Akubardia.

To the attention of:

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Miroslav Lajčák
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President, George Tsereteli
OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights office Director, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

September 10, 2019

APPEAL

On September 16, 2019, the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM)” will take place in Warsaw. This meeting serves as a platform for the 57 OSCE participating States, the OSCE Partners for Co-operation, OSCE structures, civil society, international organizations and other relevant actors to take stock of the implementation of OSCE human dimension commitments, discuss associated challenges, share good practices and make recommendations for further improvement.

The Working Group of the “Coalition for Sovereign Elections” – Georgia 2020, express it’s gratitude to the OSCE Permanent Council for the distributed statement covering current situation on the occupation lines in Georgia. At the same time we call on OSCE Leadership as well as the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to include “Ongoing aggression of the Kremlin in Georgia” in the Agenda of the Meeting and respectfully invite the Permanent Representative of Georgia to OSCE H.E. David Dondua to report on events taking place on the so-called border with occupied Tskhinvali region.

Since August 7, 2019 – the eleventh anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war – the occupation regime has been continuously carrying out illegal and unjustified provocations against Georgia. Since the beginning of August, a new wave of borderization and creeping annexation in the Gugutiantkari village has caused Georgian citizens to lose their homes again.

At the moment, the situation has gone beyond the level of provocations that Georgia is used to during the last 11 years of its occupation. The Kremlin-backed unrecognized regime has been directly threatening Georgia with a military conflict for several days, recalling the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. The threats come amid the process of borderization and kidnapping of Georgian citizens (nine people have been kidnapped since the beginning of the August). Soldiers and military equipment of the occupying forces have been stationed directly near the demarcation line.

Recently, occupying forces also closed the checkpoint between Tskhinvali region and territory under Georgian jurisdiction permanently prohibiting the free movement of local citizens. In the last few days, they moved their military point 1.2 kilometers further into Georgian territory, thus expanding their occupation line. The regime has published a map that totally differs from the one that was negotiated by all sides and that is still used by the EU Monitoring Mission. According to this map, more and more Georgian villages will be occupied.

The Russian forces, in cooperation with the KGB of the so-called South Ossetia implement described actions.

As a reminder, “security” of the occupied region of Georgia (so-called South Ossetia) is provided by the Russian Federation. Mr. Oleg Shiran, a former Russian “FSB” officer, heads the KGB of the occupied Tskhinvali region. This means that the Russian government is the only actor responsible for the violations of international law and direct aggression against Georgia. The fact that the new wave of aggression is controlled from the Kremlin is also clearly visible by the campaign of lies in the Russian media actively broadcasting news about “elections” in Abkhazia and “provocations of Georgians.”

Further, the Russian side itself is engaged in provocations. The situation is very tense, more than at any other time since the war in 2008. Georgia is working at all levels to de-escalate situation, as well as to inform the international community about the new developments of unjustified aggression from the side of occupying forces. Without an immediate and
unequivocal response from the international society, which includes the OSCE and other interested actors, the occupying regime will not stop unpunished provocations against a sovereign State.

We respectfully call on participants of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting to highlight these topics during the conference in Warsaw and prepare joint statement and concrete recommendations for Georgian government as well as European institutions on new effective mechanisms to counter aggression of the Kremlin in Georgia and human rights violations that take place on the occupied territory and occupation lines.

The statement is issued on behalf of the “Coalition for Sovereign Elections”:

The working group of “Coalition for Sovereign Elections” consists of well-known Georgian experts, journalists, activists and NGO representatives and take focus on external influence in Georgia. 09.10.2019

Contact person: Egor Kuroptev, Director of the “Free Russia Foundation” on South Caucasus egor.kuroptev@4freerussia.org

  1. Ambassador Valeri Chechelashvili – expert;
  2. Mr. Andro Gotsiridze – Founder of the Cyber Security Studies and Education Center;
  3. Mr. Egor Kuroptev – Representative of the Free Russia Foundation on South Caucasus; author of the Border Zone media project;
  4. Mr. Volodymyr Kopchak – Head of the Southern Caucasian Branch of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS);
  5. Mr. Lasha Khatiashvili – affiliated analyst at the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center;
  6. Mr. Nikolai Levshits – Fellow of the Free Russia Foundation;
  7. Mr. Tengiz Pkhaladze – Senior Fellow of the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies;
  8. Dr. Tornike Sharashenidze – Co-Founder of the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center;
  9. Mr. Vladimer Svanadze – Chairman of the board at the Internet Development Initiative;
  10. Mr. Gela Vasadze – Senior Fellow of the Georgia-Caucasus Strategic Studies Institute;
  11. Mr. Nika Chitadze – expert;
  12. Ms. Teona Akubardia.

Free Russia Foundation’s Press Release on Submission of Article 15 Communication to the International Criminal Court

Oct 06 2020

On 21 September 2020, the Free Russia Foundation submitted a Communication to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office (in The Hague, Netherlands) seeking accountability for Crimean and Russian authorities concerning international crimes perpetrated during Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. The Communication was prepared in cooperation with Global Rights Compliance and Center for Civil Liberties and is based on a focused inquiry conducted over the past year. In our inquiry, we documented crimes as part of a systematic, planned attack by the Russian state against civilians and groups in Crimea in order to discourage them from opposing the illegal occupation of Crimea and to force their departure from the peninsula. Crimes against civilians included unlawful arrests, beatings, torture, enforced disappearances, and other inhumane acts causing severe mental and/or physical pain. In particular, the crimes targeted the Crimean Tatars, a native ethnic group who had only recently returned to their homeland, having previously been forcefully and brutally displaced by the Soviet Union in 1944.

One of the principal coercive acts was the illegal detention and concomitant violence before, during, and after the imprisonment of political prisoners. Most of those detained were arrested by Russian and Crimean authorities on terrorism charges, but it was their legal, pro-Ukrainian advocacy that led to their imprisonment. In addition, trials of those arbitrarily detained were conducted in wholesale disregard of their fair trial rights. For example, some of those illegally imprisoned were denied a speedy trial, access to independent lawyers, and the opportunity to defend themselves against their arrest in a courtroom.

In order to force those illegally detained to confess to crimes they did not commit, Russian and Crimean authorities also perpetrated acts of torture and cruel or degrading treatment, the levying of additional charges against them, even more inhumane prison conditions, denial of communications with their families and threats made against them, enforced disappearances, and even, in at least one case, a mock execution.

Other inhumane acts include “punitive psychiatry” and the denial of adequate prison conditions, including the following: (i) feeding people inedible food or, at times, no food at all; (ii) facing severe overcrowding in prisons; (iii) denial of regular water supply; (iv) threats of assault against them by prison cellmates; and (v) adding pork to food – prohibited for observant Muslims. Further, medical attention was systematically inadequate or denied for many individuals.

Concerning acts of torture, it was perpetrated by different Russian authorities, including the FSB. Allegations include the use of electric shocks in an effort to get an accused to confess. One was beaten in the head, kidneys, arms and legs with an iron pipe. With another, fingers were broken. Still another endured spinal bruises and having a plastic bag placed over his head to the point of unconsciousness. Further, threats of sexual violence against a detained man were made. Murder as well. Hands were broken, teeth were knocked out in still another.

Trials were largely held behind closed doors for illegitimate reasons, and many of the witnesses were secret not only to the public but also to the Accused. Further, credible allegations exist that, at times, there were FSB or other agents in the room, silently instructing witnesses what to say and how the judges should rule. This adds credence to words, according to the Kyiv Post, heard by Arsen Dzhepparov from a senior FSB lieutenant who stated “I will prove by all possible – and impossible – means that [an Accused is] guilty – even if he isn’t guilty”.

Concerning the crime of persecution, nearly all of these deprivations of fundamental rights were carried out with discriminatory intent. Specifically, these groups were targeted due to their political view – namely, by peacefully opposing the illegal occupation of their country. Some were targeted on ethnic grounds or religious grounds on the basis of their Crimean Tatar background.

War crimes, another group of crimes punished at the ICC, were also perpetrated in addition to or in the alternative to the crimes against humanity. This includes the crime of torture, outrages against personal dignity, unlawful confinement, wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of a fair and regular trial, and the transfer of the occupying power of parts of its population into the territory it occupies or the deportation of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.

All these crimes had the ultimate objective of the criminal enterprise – the removal of pro-Ukrainian elements out of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation without opposition, including the installation of pro-Russian elements, which include the emigration of more than 70,000 Russians, the illegal imposition of Russian law in the occupied territory, forcing Russian nationality on many Crimeans, and the appropriation of public property.

Ultimately, we hope that all the information gathered by the ICC in the context of its preliminary investigation will lead the ICC to investigate mid- to high-level Russian and Crimean officials on this basis. The international community expects responsible global leadership that follows the rule of law and expects it – no matter the situation – to be respected, especially from a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When this fails to happen, the international community must demand accountability. We hope that an investigation can be opened and responsible officials of the Russian Federation will be investigated. After an investigation that conforms to international best practices, responsible persons should be charged with the systematic perpetration of international crimes.

Novichok Use Implicates Putin’s Government in Navalny’s Poisoning

Sep 02 2020

Today, the German government has announced that Russian pro-democracy leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned by Novichok. Novichok is a deadly nerve agent developed by the Soviet government chemical weapons program and used on several occasions by the Russian government to kill its critics in the recent years.

To restate the obvious, Novichok is a poison that can only be accessed with the authority of the Kremlin. Therefore, today’s announcement by German officials  directly implicates the Kremlin and Putin in the high-profile assassination attempt on Navalny.

The choice of Novichok was not just a means  to silence Mr. Navalny, but a loud, brazen and menacing message sent by Putin to the world: dare to criticize me, and you may lose your life.

The announcement by the German government of its intent to formally notify the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (‘OPCW’) of the use of Novichok against Navalny is a meek bureaucratic half-measure that fails to acknowledge the extraordinary threat to human life posed by Putin’s regime everywhere. Taken together with Angela Merkel’s promise earlier this week to help Putin finish his Nord Stream 2 pipeline despite an international outcry amounts to condoning the poisoning and normalizing it into a new modus operandi where Putin’s murders go unpunished. Free Russia Foundation urges the leaders of the EU, its Member States and the U.S. Government to take an urgent and drastic action to punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime not only to serve justice, but to establish a powerful deterrent against new attacks by Putin’s regime globally.

Free Russia Foundation Statement on Kremlin’s Interference in Elections in Georgia

Aug 26 2020

We are deeply concerned with information recently distributed by the well-respected authoritative source Center “Dossier.” According to “Dossier,” the Kremlin is using Russian political expert Sergey Mikheev and consulting company “Politsecrets” to manipulate Georgian society, distribute disinformation and anti-democratic narratives, undermine Georgia’s Western aspirations, and interfere in free and fair elections in Georgia scheduled for October 2020.

More

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Investigation into Alexey Navalny’s Poisoning

Aug 20 2020

Free Russia Foundation is gravely concerned about the life and safety of Alexey Navalny. More

Civic Solidarity Platform Appeal with Regard to the Recent Events in Belarus

Aug 12 2020

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD REACT IMMEDIATELY AND STRONGLY TO RIGGED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MASSIVE VIOLENCE OF SECURITY FORCES AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN BELARUS More