The Bolotnaya Square Case 2.0: Top Ten Takeaways

Aug 05 2019

The political crisis in Moscow is unraveling at a dizzying speed, and it is doing so along the worst possible scenario.

By Alexander Morozov

The political crisis in Moscow is unraveling at a dizzying speed, and it is doing so along the worst possible scenario.

It had been anticipated that the Mayor’s Office would adopt a measured, technical approach to solving its elections “challenges”: disqualify some of independent candidates by claiming their voters’ pre-registration signatures are invalid; remove other candidates on procedural irregularities later in the game; and the remaining candidates will just wash away on their own, unable to compete with the Kremlin’s candidates’ government financial backing.

We will never know whether this approach had ever even been considered.

Instead, the Moscow Election Commission skipped all the expected niceties and invalidated the preregistration signatures of all major independent candidate right of the bat, in a manner unabashed, utterly outrageous and blatantly illegal. This was a powerful message from the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office to Russia’s civil society – the political challenge posed by independent candidates will be neutralized by force.

While the Chair of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova and the Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov are lying low, Putin’s punitive arms – the Investigative Committee and the FSB are going full throttle. The Kremlin’s spokesmen have already asserted that independent candidates are “agents of foreign-sponsored Orange Revolution”. Home searches have commenced. Having carried out night raids on homes of independent candidates and their relatives, as well as on party headquarters and field offices, the siloviki leadership are now busy fabricating “coup collusion” cases – they are alleging that the July 27 protest participants (who came out to streets to protest illegal removal of independent candidates from the race) were really planning to storm and take over the Mayor’s Office building and the Moscow Election Committee office.

This time, the authorities have jailed not only Alexei Navalny and his associates, as they had done many times before, but even Vladimir Milov, who did not participate in the July 27 protest, and instead was leading live coverage of it on his YouTube channel. The police showed up even at the Dozhd TV bureau (previously assumed as enjoying a somewhat protected semi-sanctioned status among opposition outlets). Jail terms served by Navalny, Yashin, Galyamina, Gudkov, Yanauskas and others range from 10 to 30 days.

The Libertarian Party was in discussions with the Mayor’s Office for organizing a protest on July 3. When Mikhail Svetlov, who was conducting negotiations, refused the Mayor’s Office’s proposal to hold the protest at the Sakharov’s Prospect, he was arrested right as he was exiting the meeting, and locked up for a 30-day term.

So what we have looming ahead of us, is the second “unsanctioned” protest, and with it, mass repressions of pro-democracy Russians – the Bolotnaya Square 2.0.

To all involved, it is abundantly clear that the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office are engaged in an unfathomable act of depravity – they are fully aware that there were absolutely no mobilized groups or organizations among the protestors on July 27 and that there were no plans to storm government buildings or even resist law enforcement representatives. Muscovites have learned through bitter experience of the Bolotnaya Square persecution that every instance of resistance is recorded by numerous cameras from many angles. They also know that they are not a match for the army of riot police deployed to squash their protests. But more importantly, it is obvious that the most that the milieu of people who came out to protest was capable of was to climb a light post, but nothing even close to engaging in physical confrontation with commando units. The police handling of the protestors was unquestionably excessive in its brutality.

It is pointless to ask “how is that possible?” No, the Kremlin is not ashamed, and no one has the capacity to make it feel even the slightest remorse.

Those who came out to the streets on July 27 have shown remarkable courage. The follow-on protest will require even a higher level of valor. The Investigative Committee has opened several criminal cases against protest participants alleging “violence against the police”, and even some involving Article 211 of the Criminal Code – organization of massive social unrests. In other words, the authorities are fabricating the second Bolotnaya Case, but this time on a much more massive scale. Last time, persecuted were common citizens who accidentally got folded into the mangle of the police provocation. This time, the government is moving with criminal persecution of candidates, and possibly even against the media (Vladimir Milov, Mikhail Svetov, one of the leaders of the Libertarian Party, and Alexandra Perepelova, the Editor in Chief of Dozhd TV did not participate in street protests, they were covering protests from their respective bureaus.

A slew of Kremlin’s talking heads are helpfully suggesting – everything has been organized with foreign money, from one source of financing. Sergey Mironov, a leader of A Just Russia party in Russian Parliament, Sergey Markov, a political scientist and a Kremlin apologist, are already on the record saying just that. And that means that the Investigative Committee will now attempt to link the leaders of groups who were standing up to protect their voting rights with Soros, Khodorkovsky and the U.S. State Department.

It is very likely that despite the government’s attempts to smother protests, sanctioned and non-sanctioned protests will continue. The people are very angry. No matter how massive those protests will be, they still won’t force the government to change its position. But they would be critical to help support candidates already imprisoned and those who are being investigated.

What else can help the pro-democracy forces in Russia?

Candidates’ Solidarity. Those candidates who have managed to register to run, must withdraw their candidacies in solidarity. This gesture alone would, by no means, paralyze the election campaign, but it would send a powerful message to the Russian society.

Publication of the “Sobyanin’s List”. For the moment, public attention is fixed on those who have not been allowed to run. But the media should hit back against the Moscow government and dissect the Sobyanin’s List – those candidates who are being sneaked into the Moscow City Council to take up the spots of the disqualified, arrested and persecuted candidates. Spoilers should be exposed to public scrutiny.

As even pro-Kremlin observers admit, the Mayor’s Office has made a big mistake by disqualifying candidates based on validity of signatures en-masse. This move strikes at the core of the current Kremlin’s political strategy of advancing self-nominated candidates. Now it is impossible to explain how all of the “sanctioned” candidates have managed to collect impeccable signatures (while no one has witnessed their signature collectors or campaign staff), while the true fighters whose volunteers had tirelessly canvassed streets for weeks have “fake” signatures. This is why, these self-nominated candidates and spoilers should be thoroughly and publicly examined.

More Publicity. Russian media outlets have demonstrated an exceptional level of solidarity to stop the government prosecution of the anti-corruption investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in June 2019. The events surrounding July 27 protests feature even more flagrant instances of suppression of freedom of the press, i.e. – raids on live broadcast centers, including even the Dozhd TV station. Dozhd executed an ambitious task – it conducted live coverage from four locales simultaneously. However, it cannot be the only outlet covering follow-on protests on August 3, 10 and so on.

Russia is in the midst of a major political crisis. Key global outlets, such as CNN, ARD and BBC must carry live coverage of these events. We need the support of prominent international journalist associations and media outlets – in form of statements condemning the government strongarm attempts to shut of their Russian colleagues who want to show in detail what is going on.

Kafelnikov et al. Public statement of the famous Russian tennis player Evgeni Kafelnikov commanded much spotlight. We hope that other world-famous Muscovites and Russians join him. Such statements are truly invaluable – they are an immense moral support to those who are fighting for their rights while being under attack of a brutal and cynical government.

Preparedness by International Organizations. Many international organizations have already issued statements on the crisis in Moscow. Some would say that the Kremlin has been ignoring such statements in the recent years, and they would be right. But right now it is hard to predict how many red lines the siloviki leadership is prepared to cross and how many taboos to break in its fight against the Muscovites in the coming weeks. That is why, PACE, OSCE, the European Commission, Reporters Without Borders, the International Helsinki Commission, international election monitoring agencies, European Ministries of Foreign Affairs – they all must be engaged now, at the very first stage. It is irrelevant whether they can or cannot do anything constructive at this point. We already have the precedent of the Bolotnaya Square cases – there will be new political prisoners, there will be political refugees. And they would need support. And that’s why international humanitarian organizations must get ready now.

Who is Peddling the Orange Revolution Ruse? Andrey Pertsev’s exposé of the chaos at the Sobyanin’s campaign headquarters that led to the political crisis during the elections. To save face and cover up the fall outs of this mistake, siloviki are peddling the Orange Revolution story to Putin. Yes, the deal has both the seller and the buyer. A concerted journalistic effort should be made to clarify specifically who is responsible for the political mistake at the Mayor’s Office, how the decision-making process took place, who tasked the head of Moscow Election Commission Gorbunov, and exactly who is trying to sell to Putin the “Orange Revolution” ruse. All involved, including members of prosecution teams, loud-mouthed spokesmen and deputies should be added to the meticulously substantiated List of the Bolotnaya 2.0 Perpetrators.

Lubov Sobol’s Hunger Strike – this is much more important than seems at the first glance. She is ready to continue all the way up to elections, which is almost forty more days.

Political hunger strikes had global resonance not only during the Soviet dissidents’ era (i.e. Mustafa Dzhemilev, Andrey Sakharov), but also later. In 2010, a political hunger-strike of Guillermo Hernandez has led to the release of 52 political prisoners; and in April 2011, the hunger strike of an Indian anti-corruption movement leader Anna Hazare has pushed the government to adopt an anti-corruption legislation. Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike had a strong international resonance.

Therefore, Lubov Sobol’s hunger strike should be viewed in a broader context, without possible reservations against Navalny.

“Wetbacks”. A significant portion of protestors came from other cities – this is what the siloviki have said, and then Sobyanin echoed in his public remarks – and we must take it at face value. The crisis in Moscow, therefore, is the whole Russia protesting, not just Moscow. Not at the very least because the actions of the Mayor’s Office and siloviki is also a model for the Russian regions. Everyone understands that “if it goes in Moscow, it is acceptable in any other major Russian city.” Civil rights are equal for all. And they must be defended regardless of one’s propiska.

No Illusions. Old-timers should patiently explain to the youth that today’s protest are unlikely to bring down the current regime, regardless of how many people come out to the street and how violently they protest. Comparisons to the Kyiv’s Maidan or the Arab revolutions are naïve.

Mass protests become important when there are: 1. A split within the regime, a presence of an influential fraction that is advocating non-violent solutions; or a weak leader whose grip is loosening (as it was the case with the Velvet Revolutions of 1989, during the defeat of the Putsch in Russia, with Ukraine’s Yanukovich in 2014, etc); 2. A number of organizations, not necessarily large, who are pre-mobilized, have experience of violent clashes (sports clubs, veterans groups, soccer fans, right and left radical groups, etc); 3. A fixed undivided attention of the international community on the developments that demoralizes the regime; 4. A critically important sense shared by the protest participants that their actions are far-reaching and supported by other cities; and finally, 5. Frequently decisive is the extraordinary violence by the government that leads to mass mobilization.

When these factors are absent, we have a different historic scenario at play: one million gets together, protests and then goes home at night; or violently clashes with the police, without influencing the overall political situation in the country.

Not a single of the above described factors is present in today’s Russia.

This does not mean that citizens cannot or should not go to the streets en masse to protest government despotism. It only means that the efforts should be focuses not on futile hopes, but on rational defense measures against the Bolotnaya Square 2.0 cases, from a new wave of oppression from the government.

No Resistance [while protesting]. People should be on the lookout for provocations. This means that every participant of protests should denounce attempts at resistance. A winning strategy today is keep one’s arms up, (the way it was done by the protestors at the Bryusovo’s Intersection) and chant “we are unarmed”, and not attempt to put up any resistance.

This Article first appeared in Russian at the Republic

By Alexander Morozov

The political crisis in Moscow is unraveling at a dizzying speed, and it is doing so along the worst possible scenario.

It had been anticipated that the Mayor’s Office would adopt a measured, technical approach to solving its elections “challenges”: disqualify some of independent candidates by claiming their voters’ pre-registration signatures are invalid; remove other candidates on procedural irregularities later in the game; and the remaining candidates will just wash away on their own, unable to compete with the Kremlin’s candidates’ government financial backing.

We will never know whether this approach had ever even been considered.

Instead, the Moscow Election Commission skipped all the expected niceties and invalidated the preregistration signatures of all major independent candidate right of the bat, in a manner unabashed, utterly outrageous and blatantly illegal. This was a powerful message from the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office to Russia’s civil society – the political challenge posed by independent candidates will be neutralized by force.

While the Chair of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova and the Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov are lying low, Putin’s punitive arms – the Investigative Committee and the FSB are going full throttle. The Kremlin’s spokesmen have already asserted that independent candidates are “agents of foreign-sponsored Orange Revolution”. Home searches have commenced. Having carried out night raids on homes of independent candidates and their relatives, as well as on party headquarters and field offices, the siloviki leadership are now busy fabricating “coup collusion” cases – they are alleging that the July 27 protest participants (who came out to streets to protest illegal removal of independent candidates from the race) were really planning to storm and take over the Mayor’s Office building and the Moscow Election Committee office.

This time, the authorities have jailed not only Alexei Navalny and his associates, as they had done many times before, but even Vladimir Milov, who did not participate in the July 27 protest, and instead was leading live coverage of it on his YouTube channel. The police showed up even at the Dozhd TV bureau (previously assumed as enjoying a somewhat protected semi-sanctioned status among opposition outlets). Jail terms served by Navalny, Yashin, Galyamina, Gudkov, Yanauskas and others range from 10 to 30 days.

The Libertarian Party was in discussions with the Mayor’s Office for organizing a protest on July 3. When Mikhail Svetlov, who was conducting negotiations, refused the Mayor’s Office’s proposal to hold the protest at the Sakharov’s Prospect, he was arrested right as he was exiting the meeting, and locked up for a 30-day term.

So what we have looming ahead of us, is the second “unsanctioned” protest, and with it, mass repressions of pro-democracy Russians – the Bolotnaya Square 2.0.

To all involved, it is abundantly clear that the Kremlin and the Mayor’s Office are engaged in an unfathomable act of depravity – they are fully aware that there were absolutely no mobilized groups or organizations among the protestors on July 27 and that there were no plans to storm government buildings or even resist law enforcement representatives. Muscovites have learned through bitter experience of the Bolotnaya Square persecution that every instance of resistance is recorded by numerous cameras from many angles. They also know that they are not a match for the army of riot police deployed to squash their protests. But more importantly, it is obvious that the most that the milieu of people who came out to protest was capable of was to climb a light post, but nothing even close to engaging in physical confrontation with commando units. The police handling of the protestors was unquestionably excessive in its brutality.

It is pointless to ask “how is that possible?” No, the Kremlin is not ashamed, and no one has the capacity to make it feel even the slightest remorse.

Those who came out to the streets on July 27 have shown remarkable courage. The follow-on protest will require even a higher level of valor. The Investigative Committee has opened several criminal cases against protest participants alleging “violence against the police”, and even some involving Article 211 of the Criminal Code – organization of massive social unrests. In other words, the authorities are fabricating the second Bolotnaya Case, but this time on a much more massive scale. Last time, persecuted were common citizens who accidentally got folded into the mangle of the police provocation. This time, the government is moving with criminal persecution of candidates, and possibly even against the media (Vladimir Milov, Mikhail Svetov, one of the leaders of the Libertarian Party, and Alexandra Perepelova, the Editor in Chief of Dozhd TV did not participate in street protests, they were covering protests from their respective bureaus.

A slew of Kremlin’s talking heads are helpfully suggesting – everything has been organized with foreign money, from one source of financing. Sergey Mironov, a leader of A Just Russia party in Russian Parliament, Sergey Markov, a political scientist and a Kremlin apologist, are already on the record saying just that. And that means that the Investigative Committee will now attempt to link the leaders of groups who were standing up to protect their voting rights with Soros, Khodorkovsky and the U.S. State Department.

It is very likely that despite the government’s attempts to smother protests, sanctioned and non-sanctioned protests will continue. The people are very angry. No matter how massive those protests will be, they still won’t force the government to change its position. But they would be critical to help support candidates already imprisoned and those who are being investigated.

What else can help the pro-democracy forces in Russia?

Candidates’ Solidarity. Those candidates who have managed to register to run, must withdraw their candidacies in solidarity. This gesture alone would, by no means, paralyze the election campaign, but it would send a powerful message to the Russian society.

Publication of the “Sobyanin’s List”. For the moment, public attention is fixed on those who have not been allowed to run. But the media should hit back against the Moscow government and dissect the Sobyanin’s List – those candidates who are being sneaked into the Moscow City Council to take up the spots of the disqualified, arrested and persecuted candidates. Spoilers should be exposed to public scrutiny.

As even pro-Kremlin observers admit, the Mayor’s Office has made a big mistake by disqualifying candidates based on validity of signatures en-masse. This move strikes at the core of the current Kremlin’s political strategy of advancing self-nominated candidates. Now it is impossible to explain how all of the “sanctioned” candidates have managed to collect impeccable signatures (while no one has witnessed their signature collectors or campaign staff), while the true fighters whose volunteers had tirelessly canvassed streets for weeks have “fake” signatures. This is why, these self-nominated candidates and spoilers should be thoroughly and publicly examined.

More Publicity. Russian media outlets have demonstrated an exceptional level of solidarity to stop the government prosecution of the anti-corruption investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in June 2019. The events surrounding July 27 protests feature even more flagrant instances of suppression of freedom of the press, i.e. – raids on live broadcast centers, including even the Dozhd TV station. Dozhd executed an ambitious task – it conducted live coverage from four locales simultaneously. However, it cannot be the only outlet covering follow-on protests on August 3, 10 and so on.

Russia is in the midst of a major political crisis. Key global outlets, such as CNN, ARD and BBC must carry live coverage of these events. We need the support of prominent international journalist associations and media outlets – in form of statements condemning the government strongarm attempts to shut of their Russian colleagues who want to show in detail what is going on.

Kafelnikov et al. Public statement of the famous Russian tennis player Evgeni Kafelnikov commanded much spotlight. We hope that other world-famous Muscovites and Russians join him. Such statements are truly invaluable – they are an immense moral support to those who are fighting for their rights while being under attack of a brutal and cynical government.

Preparedness by International Organizations. Many international organizations have already issued statements on the crisis in Moscow. Some would say that the Kremlin has been ignoring such statements in the recent years, and they would be right. But right now it is hard to predict how many red lines the siloviki leadership is prepared to cross and how many taboos to break in its fight against the Muscovites in the coming weeks. That is why, PACE, OSCE, the European Commission, Reporters Without Borders, the International Helsinki Commission, international election monitoring agencies, European Ministries of Foreign Affairs – they all must be engaged now, at the very first stage. It is irrelevant whether they can or cannot do anything constructive at this point. We already have the precedent of the Bolotnaya Square cases – there will be new political prisoners, there will be political refugees. And they would need support. And that’s why international humanitarian organizations must get ready now.

Who is Peddling the Orange Revolution Ruse? Andrey Pertsev’s exposé of the chaos at the Sobyanin’s campaign headquarters that led to the political crisis during the elections. To save face and cover up the fall outs of this mistake, siloviki are peddling the Orange Revolution story to Putin. Yes, the deal has both the seller and the buyer. A concerted journalistic effort should be made to clarify specifically who is responsible for the political mistake at the Mayor’s Office, how the decision-making process took place, who tasked the head of Moscow Election Commission Gorbunov, and exactly who is trying to sell to Putin the “Orange Revolution” ruse. All involved, including members of prosecution teams, loud-mouthed spokesmen and deputies should be added to the meticulously substantiated List of the Bolotnaya 2.0 Perpetrators.

Lubov Sobol’s Hunger Strike – this is much more important than seems at the first glance. She is ready to continue all the way up to elections, which is almost forty more days.

Political hunger strikes had global resonance not only during the Soviet dissidents’ era (i.e. Mustafa Dzhemilev, Andrey Sakharov), but also later. In 2010, a political hunger-strike of Guillermo Hernandez has led to the release of 52 political prisoners; and in April 2011, the hunger strike of an Indian anti-corruption movement leader Anna Hazare has pushed the government to adopt an anti-corruption legislation. Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike had a strong international resonance.

Therefore, Lubov Sobol’s hunger strike should be viewed in a broader context, without possible reservations against Navalny.

“Wetbacks”. A significant portion of protestors came from other cities – this is what the siloviki have said, and then Sobyanin echoed in his public remarks – and we must take it at face value. The crisis in Moscow, therefore, is the whole Russia protesting, not just Moscow. Not at the very least because the actions of the Mayor’s Office and siloviki is also a model for the Russian regions. Everyone understands that “if it goes in Moscow, it is acceptable in any other major Russian city.” Civil rights are equal for all. And they must be defended regardless of one’s propiska.

No Illusions. Old-timers should patiently explain to the youth that today’s protest are unlikely to bring down the current regime, regardless of how many people come out to the street and how violently they protest. Comparisons to the Kyiv’s Maidan or the Arab revolutions are naïve.

Mass protests become important when there are: 1. A split within the regime, a presence of an influential fraction that is advocating non-violent solutions; or a weak leader whose grip is loosening (as it was the case with the Velvet Revolutions of 1989, during the defeat of the Putsch in Russia, with Ukraine’s Yanukovich in 2014, etc); 2. A number of organizations, not necessarily large, who are pre-mobilized, have experience of violent clashes (sports clubs, veterans groups, soccer fans, right and left radical groups, etc); 3. A fixed undivided attention of the international community on the developments that demoralizes the regime; 4. A critically important sense shared by the protest participants that their actions are far-reaching and supported by other cities; and finally, 5. Frequently decisive is the extraordinary violence by the government that leads to mass mobilization.

When these factors are absent, we have a different historic scenario at play: one million gets together, protests and then goes home at night; or violently clashes with the police, without influencing the overall political situation in the country.

Not a single of the above described factors is present in today’s Russia.

This does not mean that citizens cannot or should not go to the streets en masse to protest government despotism. It only means that the efforts should be focuses not on futile hopes, but on rational defense measures against the Bolotnaya Square 2.0 cases, from a new wave of oppression from the government.

No Resistance [while protesting]. People should be on the lookout for provocations. This means that every participant of protests should denounce attempts at resistance. A winning strategy today is keep one’s arms up, (the way it was done by the protestors at the Bryusovo’s Intersection) and chant “we are unarmed”, and not attempt to put up any resistance.

This Article first appeared in Russian at the Republic

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

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Urgent and Concrete Steps to Stop Putin’s Global Assassination Campaigns

Feb 11 2021

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. 

Free Russia Foundation condemns in strongest terms today’s court sentence announced to Alexey Navalny

Feb 02 2021

Continued detention of Navalny is illegal and he must be freed immediately. Suppression of peaceful protests and mass arrests of Russian citizens must stop, and the Kremlin must release all those illegally detained and imprisoned on political motives. Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community, the US and European leadership, to move beyond expressions of concern and articulate a set of meaningful instruments to compel the Kremlin to stop its atrocities.