Free Russia Foundation Launches #NoToWar Campaign

The federal authorities should respond to Ramzan Kadyrov

Jan 23 2016

Free Russia Foundation supports the statement of Amnesty International regarding the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Prominent international rights groups Amnesty International and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action following “threats” and “menacing” language deployed by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his inner circle against journalists and activists.

Russian Federation: The federal authorities must respond immediately and decisively to latest threats against human rights defenders, journalists and political activists

The federal Russian authorities must respond to a string of thinly veiled threats against several prominent human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, which originated from the political leadership of Chechnya. Such threats should not be taken lightly. The assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 and the abduction and murder of Chechen human rights defender Natalia Estemirova in 2009 were preceded by similar threats. This time, those threatened and intimidated include human rights defenders Igor Kalyapin, known for his human rights work in Chechnya and Lev Ponomarev, the Editor-in-Chief of Echo Moskvy Aleksei Venediktov, and political activist Ilya Yashin, among others.

These threats are a further sinister development in the ongoing harassment of independent NGOs and human rights defenders in Russia which has seen an ever growing number of independent NGOs labelled as “foreign agents”, and four foreign organizations labelled as “undesirable” and banned from operating in Russia.

Starting on 12 January, the Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov and other individuals from his close circle, have made a number of incendiary statements accompanied by an aggressive rhetoric, against those who they describe as “enemies of the people” and of Russia, and “traitors”. In his initial statement during a meeting with journalists to mark the Day of Russian Press, Kadyrov called for the “non-systemic opposition” (oppositional political groups not represented in the parliament) to be put on trial for their “subversive activities”.

Ramzan Kadyrov’s statement attracted much criticism, particularly from human rights defenders and other champions of civil and political freedoms in Russia. Calls were made to President Vladimir Putin to dismiss the Chechen leader for this provocative statement.

Those who publicly criticized Kadyrov were immediately subjected to pressure and harassment. Ella Pamfilova, the Human Rights Ombudsperson, was the only federal-level official who criticized Kadyrov’s statement, describing it as “meaningless” and a disservice to Russia’s President. She promptly received a call from a member of the State Duma from Chechnya, Shamsail Saraliev, who demanded that she apologize to Ramzan Kadyrov. A local MP in Krasnoyarsk who denounced Kadyrov for the same statement in a social media posting hastily retracted his criticism and declared he was “convinced of the authority of the Chechen leader” after he was contacted by “a representative of the Chechen people”.

On 16 January, the Speaker of the Chechen parliament and Kadyrov’s close associate, Magomed Daudov, published a statement in Grozny Inform, the mouthpiece of the Chechen administration, in which he blamed “non-governmental and ‘human rights’ organizations from America and Europe” for fueling past conflicts in Chechnya. He named the independent radio station Echo Moskvy and TV channel Dozhd, and made reference to several prominent human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, accusing them of high treason and other crimes. He repeated his attacks, in a deeply provocative and insulting manner, in at least two Instagram postings where he also made thinly veiled threats against those he singled out as “paid puppets” and “traitors”. Daudov’s threats were accompanied by photos of several of those he named. Further publications and personal and general attacks followed, including by Ramzan Kadyrov himself.

These threats have been made in a climate of an increasing crackdown against government critics and other dissenting voices in Russia that was epitomised by the assassination of the prominent political activist Boris Nemtsov in February 2015. There is a history of violent incidents and killings of human rights defenders and other government critics which the Russian authorities have conspicuously failed to investigate and punish. Among these is the killing of Natalia Estemirova which sent a message across Russia that human rights work – or even speaking out against the government – in Chechnya is a highly risky business.

It was a group of courageous human rights defenders from other parts of Russia, led by Igor Kalyapin and his NGO Committee against Torture (disbanded after the Russian authorities put it on the “foreign agents” list in 2015), who set up the Joint Mobile Group for Chechnya to ensure ongoing human rights work within the Chechen Republic. The Group, and Igor Kalyapin personally, have since faced a range of threats and attacks, ranging from egg-pelting by aggressive men from Chechnya at a press conference in Moscow, to the Group’s office in the Chechen capital Grozny being subjected to an arson attack on 13 December 2014, and then again ransacked on 2 June 2015 by a mob during a “protest action” outside its windows. Neither of these incidents has been effectively and impartially investigated by the authorities in spite of a wealth of evidence, including CCTV recordings, being available to them.

This pattern of threats and attacks against human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, particularly those working on Chechnya, and the continuing impunity for such acts make it imperative that the federal Russian authorities promptly and impartially investigate the threats and attacks and ensure that those responsible are brought before justice. Moreover, those who have been threatened, attacked and harassed due to their work in defending human rights must be urgently protected. As a first step, the Russian authorities should publicly acknowledge and recognize the legitimate work carried out by human rights defenders.

Prominent international rights groups Amnesty International and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action following “threats” and “menacing” language deployed by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his inner circle against journalists and activists.

Russian Federation: The federal authorities must respond immediately and decisively to latest threats against human rights defenders, journalists and political activists

The federal Russian authorities must respond to a string of thinly veiled threats against several prominent human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, which originated from the political leadership of Chechnya. Such threats should not be taken lightly. The assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 and the abduction and murder of Chechen human rights defender Natalia Estemirova in 2009 were preceded by similar threats. This time, those threatened and intimidated include human rights defenders Igor Kalyapin, known for his human rights work in Chechnya and Lev Ponomarev, the Editor-in-Chief of Echo Moskvy Aleksei Venediktov, and political activist Ilya Yashin, among others.

These threats are a further sinister development in the ongoing harassment of independent NGOs and human rights defenders in Russia which has seen an ever growing number of independent NGOs labelled as “foreign agents”, and four foreign organizations labelled as “undesirable” and banned from operating in Russia.

Starting on 12 January, the Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov and other individuals from his close circle, have made a number of incendiary statements accompanied by an aggressive rhetoric, against those who they describe as “enemies of the people” and of Russia, and “traitors”. In his initial statement during a meeting with journalists to mark the Day of Russian Press, Kadyrov called for the “non-systemic opposition” (oppositional political groups not represented in the parliament) to be put on trial for their “subversive activities”.

Ramzan Kadyrov’s statement attracted much criticism, particularly from human rights defenders and other champions of civil and political freedoms in Russia. Calls were made to President Vladimir Putin to dismiss the Chechen leader for this provocative statement.

Those who publicly criticized Kadyrov were immediately subjected to pressure and harassment. Ella Pamfilova, the Human Rights Ombudsperson, was the only federal-level official who criticized Kadyrov’s statement, describing it as “meaningless” and a disservice to Russia’s President. She promptly received a call from a member of the State Duma from Chechnya, Shamsail Saraliev, who demanded that she apologize to Ramzan Kadyrov. A local MP in Krasnoyarsk who denounced Kadyrov for the same statement in a social media posting hastily retracted his criticism and declared he was “convinced of the authority of the Chechen leader” after he was contacted by “a representative of the Chechen people”.

On 16 January, the Speaker of the Chechen parliament and Kadyrov’s close associate, Magomed Daudov, published a statement in Grozny Inform, the mouthpiece of the Chechen administration, in which he blamed “non-governmental and ‘human rights’ organizations from America and Europe” for fueling past conflicts in Chechnya. He named the independent radio station Echo Moskvy and TV channel Dozhd, and made reference to several prominent human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, accusing them of high treason and other crimes. He repeated his attacks, in a deeply provocative and insulting manner, in at least two Instagram postings where he also made thinly veiled threats against those he singled out as “paid puppets” and “traitors”. Daudov’s threats were accompanied by photos of several of those he named. Further publications and personal and general attacks followed, including by Ramzan Kadyrov himself.

These threats have been made in a climate of an increasing crackdown against government critics and other dissenting voices in Russia that was epitomised by the assassination of the prominent political activist Boris Nemtsov in February 2015. There is a history of violent incidents and killings of human rights defenders and other government critics which the Russian authorities have conspicuously failed to investigate and punish. Among these is the killing of Natalia Estemirova which sent a message across Russia that human rights work – or even speaking out against the government – in Chechnya is a highly risky business.

It was a group of courageous human rights defenders from other parts of Russia, led by Igor Kalyapin and his NGO Committee against Torture (disbanded after the Russian authorities put it on the “foreign agents” list in 2015), who set up the Joint Mobile Group for Chechnya to ensure ongoing human rights work within the Chechen Republic. The Group, and Igor Kalyapin personally, have since faced a range of threats and attacks, ranging from egg-pelting by aggressive men from Chechnya at a press conference in Moscow, to the Group’s office in the Chechen capital Grozny being subjected to an arson attack on 13 December 2014, and then again ransacked on 2 June 2015 by a mob during a “protest action” outside its windows. Neither of these incidents has been effectively and impartially investigated by the authorities in spite of a wealth of evidence, including CCTV recordings, being available to them.

This pattern of threats and attacks against human rights defenders, media workers and political activists, particularly those working on Chechnya, and the continuing impunity for such acts make it imperative that the federal Russian authorities promptly and impartially investigate the threats and attacks and ensure that those responsible are brought before justice. Moreover, those who have been threatened, attacked and harassed due to their work in defending human rights must be urgently protected. As a first step, the Russian authorities should publicly acknowledge and recognize the legitimate work carried out by human rights defenders.

Free Russia Foundation Condemns the Kremlin’s Decision to Annex the Occupied Territories of Ukraine and Preparations for Mobilization in Russia

Sep 20 2022

On September 20, 2022, the occupation authorities of the self-proclaimed republics “LNR” and “DNR” and other occupied territories of Ukraine, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, hastily announced that they would hold “referendums on joining Russia” in the near future. The authorities of the “LNR” and “DNR” added that the vote will take place as early as this week, from September 23 to 27, 2022.

On the same day, the Russian State Duma introduced the concepts of “mobilization,” “martial law” and “wartime” into the Russian Criminal Code. The deputies voted for the law in the third reading unanimously — all 389 of them. Now voluntary surrender, looting and unauthorized abandonment of a unit during combat operations will result in imprisonment.

From the first day of the war unleashed by Putin’s regime and its allies against independent Ukraine, Free Russia Foundation, which supports Russian activists, journalists, and human rights activists forced to leave the country because of direct security threats, has condemned the crimes of Putin’s regime against independent Ukraine. We respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and consider human life and freedom to be of the highest value.

The forthcoming “referendums”, mobilization, and martial law are a collapse of the whole system of “Putin’s stability,” the illusion of which the Kremlin has been trying to maintain since the beginning of the full-scale war with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is preparing to blatantly violate international law once again and launch an attack on democracy and freedom in Ukraine and Europe. Any statements by the Kremlin that residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine want to become part of Russia are false.

Three decades ago, the Ukrainian people proclaimed the independence of their state. Since 2014, the world has seen that Vladimir Putin has undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and any attempts at anti-war protest in Russia through military force, repressive legislation, false statements, and massive state propaganda. Despite all the suffering inflicted on Ukraine, Putin has failed to achieve this goal: Ukrainians continue to show fortitude and determination to defend their country at any cost, and Russian anti-war resistance continues despite repression.

We consider any attempts to tear away Ukrainian territory through so-called “referendums” categorically unacceptable and call on state institutions and international human rights organizations to join the demand for an immediate end to the war and the liberation of the occupied territories. Any war brings suffering to humanity and endangers peace. We will not allow a totalitarian dictatorship to prevail and we will continue to fight for Ukraine’s independence and Russia’s democratic future.

Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Vladimir Milov as Vice President for International Advocacy

Sep 01 2022

September 1, 2022. Washington, DC. Free Russia Foundation announces the appointment of Russian politician, publicist, economist, and energy expert Vladimir Milov as FRF Vice President for International Advocacy.

In her announcement of Vladimir’s new role, Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, remarked: “I am delighted to welcome this distinguished Russian civil society leader to our team. I am certain that Vladimir will become our force multiplier and make a profound contribution to FRF’s mission, including strengthening civil society in Russia, standing up for democracy defenders who oppose war, both inside and outside the country, building coalitions and mobilizing supporters. Vladimir Milov’s professional skills and extensive experience in human rights advocacy will help us come up with effective and innovative approaches to combat the authoritarian regime and repression that the current Russian government has unleashed against citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Vladimir Milov was born on June 18, 1972. From 1997—2002 he worked in government agencies, more than 4 years of which were in senior positions, from assistant to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Commission to the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia.

Vladimir Milov has bravely and publicly called out the authorities for monopolizing the economy, and encroaching into public and political life of Russian citizens. Milov’s profile as an opposition leader rose thanks to his joint project with Boris Nemtsov. The report titled “Putin. Results,” condemned the activities of the Russian government during Putin’s presidency. In 2010, Mr. Milov headed the Democratic Choice movement, which later served as the basis for the creation of a political party with the same name.

In 2016, Mr. Milov became an associate of the unregistered presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. On May 11, 2017, he began hosting a weekly segment on the economy, “Where’s the Money?” on the NavalnyLIVE broadcast on YouTube.

In April of 2021, he left Russia for Lithuania amidst persecution of Alexei Navalny’s organizations. In February of 2022, he categorically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On May 6, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice added Vladimir Milov to the list of media outlets considered as “foreign agents.” Vladimir Milov is a regular guest expert for the world’s leading media outlets — CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal.

Kara-Murza faces a new charge as the Kremlin cracks down on its opponents

Aug 04 2022

Russian pro-democracy politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who’s been in jail since April for allegedly spreading “disinformation” about the Russian military, now also stands accused of “carrying out the activities of an undesirable organization,” which names Free Russia Foundation in the newly filed charge.

Free Russia Foundation, unconstitutionally designated as an “undesirable” organization by the Russian government in June 2019, did not organize an event on political prisoners in Moscow in 2021. FRF does not have any presence or programs inside Russia. Additionally, FRF has never conducted any work in the State of Arizona.

FRF strongly condemns the new charges brought against Vladimir Kara-Murza by Russian authorities and demands the dropping of all charges against him and calls for his immediate release.

“All actions of the Kremlin directed against Russian opposition politicians and activists have nothing in common with establishing the truth. They are instead aimed solely at getting rid of opponents of Putin’s regime,” FRF President Arno stated.

Free Russian Foundation and Boris Nemtsov Foundation launch “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign

Jul 25 2022

Russia is not Putin. We are Russia.

We aim at sharing this message with our friends around the world — therefore, in cooperation with Boris Nemtsov Foundation we are launching “Russians for Change” fundraising campaign.

We are going to be telling the stories of active pro-democracy anti-war Russians who have not lost their hope. US nationals also participate in this campaign: Francis Fukuyama, investigative journalist Casey Michel, and alumni of Boris Nemtsov Foundation media school.

Thank you for your donation:

The Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom honors the political legacy of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian liberal opposition politician assassinated in Moscow in 2015. It promotes freedom of speech and education along with the vision that Russia is a part of Europe.

Free Russia Foundation is starting to document cases of abduction by the Russian army of Ukrainians for the International Criminal Court

Jul 13 2022

In the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, in addition to the killing of civilians and horrific destructions carried out by the Russian army: a severe violation of the norms of international law in the form of abduction of Ukrainians into the territory of Russia has been taking place.

Prior to being interned, Ukrainians are placed in so-called “filtration camps” where they are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

All these actions violate the Hague Conventions and constitute an international crime.

We plan to collect information about such abduction cases, put it in written pleadings, and submit them to the International Criminal Court.

If you have been subject to abduction (internment), please, fill in the form via the link.