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 demands Navalny’s immediate release

Jan 17 2021

On January 17, 2021, Putin’s agents arrested Alexey Navalny as he returned to Russia from Germany where he was treated for a near-deadly poisoning perpetrated by state-directed assassins.

Navalny’s illegal arrest constitutes kidnapping. He is kept incommunicado from his lawyer and family at an unknown location and his life is in danger.

Free Russia Foundation demands his immediate release and an international investigation of crimes committed against him by Putin’s government.

The European Court of Human Rights Recognizes Complaints on Violations in “Ukraine v. Russia” as Admissible

Jan 14 2021

On January 14, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights published its decision on the case “Ukraine v. Russia”. The Grand Chamber of the Court has recognized complaints No. 20958/14 and No. 38334/18 as partially admissible for consideration on the merits. The decision will be followed by a judgment at a later date.

The case concerns the consideration of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights related to Russia’s systematic administrative practices in Crimea. 

The admissibility of the case is based on the fact that, since 2014, the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over the territory of Crimea, and, accordingly, is fully responsible for compliance with the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea. The Court now needs to determine the specific circumstances of the case and establish the facts regarding violations of Articles of the Convention during two periods: from February 27, 2014 to March 18, 2014 (the period of the Russian invasion); and from March 18, 2014 onward (the period during which the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over Crimea).

The Court has established that prima facie it has sufficient evidence of systematic administrative practice concerning the following circumstances:

  • forced rendition and the lack of an effective investigation into such a practice under Article 2; 
  • cruel treatment and unlawful detention under Articles 3 and 5; 
  • extending application of Russian law into Crimea with the result that, as of  February 27, 2014, the courts in Crimea could not be considered to have been “established by law” as defined by Article 6; 
  • automatic imposition of Russian citizenship and unreasonable searches of private dwellings under Article 8; 
  • harassment and intimidation of religious leaders not conforming to the Russian Orthodox faith, arbitrary raids of places of worship and confiscation of religious property under Article 9;
  • suppression of non-Russian media under Article 10; 
  • prohibition of public gatherings and manifestations of support, as well as intimidation and arbitrary detention of organizers of demonstrations under Article 11; 
  • expropriation without compensation of property from civilians and private enterprises under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;
  • suppression of the Ukrainian language in schools and harassment of Ukrainian-speaking children under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1; 6 
  • restricting freedom of movement between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, resulting from the de facto transformation (by Russia) of the administrative delimitation into a border (between Russia and Ukraine) under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4; and, 
  • discriminating against Crimean Tatars under Article 14, taken in conjunction with Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention and with Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.

Cases between states are the rarest category considered by the ECHR. Almost all cases considered in Strasbourg concern individuals or organizations and involve illegal actions or inaction of the states’ parties to the Convention. However, Art. 33 of this Convention provides that “any High Contracting Party may refer to the Court the question of any alleged violation of the provisions of the Convention and its Protocols by another High Contracting Party.” In the entire history of the ECHR since 1953, there have been only 27 such cases. Two of them are joint cases against Russia, both of which concern the Russian Federation’s aggression on the territory of its neighboring states, Georgia and Ukraine.

New Year’s Blessings to All

Dec 30 2020

While 2020 gave us unprecedented challenges, it created transformative changes in the way we work and communicate. The hours of Zoom calls seemingly brought us all closer together as we got a glimpse into each other’s makeshift home offices along with interruption by kids and the family pets. Remote work also made us appreciate human interactions, in-person events and trips much more!

As 2020 comes to an end, we want to especially thank our supporters who continued to believe in our mission and the value of our hard work, and we hope the coming year brings all of us progress and growth for democracy throughout the world. We’d also like to thank our partners and staff in the U.S. and abroad, and we know how hard everyone has worked under difficult world changes to achieve so many of our objectives this year.

We send our best wishes to all who have stayed in the fight for democratic reforms and for the values of basic human rights. We look forward to a new year with the hope of many positive changes to come.

– Natalia Arno and the Free Russia Foundation team.

International Criminal Court Asks for Full Probe Into Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Dec 14 2020

On December 11, 2020, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement on the preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor.

According to the findings of the examination, the situation in Ukraine meets the statutory criteria to launch an investigation. The preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine was opened on 24 April 2014.

Specifically, and without prejudice to any other crimes which may be identified during the course of an investigation, Office of the Prosecutor has concluded that there is a reasonable basis at this time to believe that a broad range of conduct constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in the context of the situation in Ukraine.

These findings will be spelled out in more detail in the annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities issued by the Office and include three broad clusters of victimization:

1.     crimes committed in the context of the conduct of hostilities;

2.     crimes committed during detentions;

3.     crimes committed in Crimea.

These crimes, committed by the different parties to the conflict, were sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by Office of the Prosecutor, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.

Having examined the information available, the Prosecutor concluded that the competent authorities in Ukraine and/or in the Russian Federation are either inactive in relation to the alleged perpetrators, or do not have access to them.

The next step will be to request authorization from the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open investigations.

The Prosecutor urges the international community, including the governments of Ukraine and Russia, to cooperate. This will determine how justice will be served both on domestic and the international level.

We remind you that on September 21, 2020, Free Russia Foundation sent a special Communication to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the Hague, the Netherlands) asking to bring Crimean and Russian authorities to justice for international crimes committed during the Russian occupation of Crimea.

Comment by Scott Martin (Global Rights Compliance LLP):

As Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reaches the end of her tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, she announced yesterday that a reasonable basis existed to believe that a broad range of conduct constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in relation to the situation in Ukraine. One of the most consequential preliminary examinations in the court’s short history, the Prosecutor will now request authorization from the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to open a full investigation into the situation.

Anticipating that the Prosecutor’s request will be granted, the ICC Prosecutor’s office will be investigating the second group of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Russian Federation (the situation in Georgia being the other). This would make Russia the only country in the world facing two separate investigations at the ICC for crimes under its jurisdiction.

Call for Submissions – The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly vol. 3

Oct 26 2020

The Free Russia Foundation invites submissions to The Kremlins Influence Quarterly, a journal that explores and analyzes manifestations of the malign influence of Putin’s Russia in Europe.

We understand malign influence in the European context as a specific type of influence that directly or indirectly subverts and undermines European values and democratic institutions. We follow the Treaty on European Union in understanding European values that are the following: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. Democratic institutions are guardians of European values, and among them we highlight representative political parties; free and fair elections; an impartial justice system; free, independent and pluralistic media; and civil society.

Your contribution to The Kremlins Influence Quarterly would focus on one European country from the EU, Eastern Partnership or Western Balkans, and on one particular area where you want to explore Russian malign influence: politics, diplomacy, military domain, business, media, civil society, academia, religion, crime, or law.

Each chapter in The Kremlins Influence Quarterly should be around 5 thousand words including footnotes. The Free Russia Foundation offers an honorarium for contributions accepted for publication in the journal.

If you are interested in submitting a chapter, please send us a brief description of your chapter and its title (250 words) to the following e-mail address: info@4freerussia.org. Please put The Kremlin’s Influence Quarterly as a subject line of your message.