Advocacy statements

Oppression of journalists, activists, and dissenters in Russia

  • Date / 2024
  • Location / Russia
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review

Humanists International

55th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (26 February to 5 April 2024)

Item 6: UPR on Russia

We thank the Russian Federation for its presentation.

Since the last UPR cycle, Russia has not just shown a lack of progress, but we have seen increasing repression. Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine goes hand in hand with its crackdowns at home, and the surge in the persecution of those perceived as threats. The rights to free expression, assembly, and association, have all been curtailed or denied.[1] Civic space has shrunk such that it is now imperceptible. Journalists, human rights defenders, and those critical of the Government have faced imprisonment and crackdowns, labeled as “foreign agents” or “terrorists”.[2] Both domestic and foreign journalists languish in Russian detention.[3]

Against this backdrop, Humanists International would like to highlight recommendations made to release political prisoners, including Alexei Navalny.[4] His untimely death in the Polar Wolf detention center at the charge of the Russian government means these recommendations can never be realized.[5] In memory of his tireless work for democracy, we call for the release of those detained on political grounds. Political dissent is vital in and of itself, as well as protected in international human rights law, and should be respected by the Russian Government.

Furthermore, Russia’s refusal to accept most of the recommendations of the UPR Working Group is regrettable, and as the country’s leader takes his fifth term, it is clear that accountability mechanisms are of no concern to the State. With that said, it is important that the international community continues to call out Russia’s heinous actions both at home and abroad, for without attention, Russian propaganda can spread unchecked.

On this note, attempts by Russia to undermine the work of this Council should be widely condemned. Disinformation spread by Russia at and about the UN and this Council blunts its important work in pursuit and protection of human rights.[6] Individuals and their rights should not be made the pawns of revisionist powers.

Thank you.

[1] https://freedomhouse.org/country/russia/freedom-world/2023

[2] https://rsf.org/en/country/russia; https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2022/07/20/russia-declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-10th-anniversary-of-the-introduction-of-the-law-on-foreign-agents/

[3] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/evan-gershkovich-russian-prison-one-year_n_65f030c9e4b0bd5228d56900; https://cpj.org/2024/03/russia-jails-journalist-over-plane-crash-coverage-detains-another-during-election/

[4] A/HRC/55/14 [35.108, 35.238]

[5] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/alexei-navalnys-death-what-do-we-know-2024-02-18/

[6] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/653635/EXPO_STU(2021)653635_EN.pdf

Suggested academic reference

'Oppression of journalists, activists, and dissenters in Russia', Humanists International

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