Advocacy statements

UPR Statement on Russia

  • Date / 2018
  • Location / Russia
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 39th Session (10th – 28th September 2018)

UPR: Russian Federation

Mr. President, Minister Konovalov,

Since its UPRs in 2013 and 2009 the Russian Federation has seen a significant worsening in violations of the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, belief and expression.

Against all recommendations in the past and during this UPR, the 2002 “Extremism Law” and associated Criminal Code articles remain the most serious threat to rights of freedom of belief and expression. In recent years, those sentenced, or facing prison terms or fines, for “extremist activities” have increasingly included bloggers, journalists and critics of the government.

One recent case was that of Maria Motuznaya, who is under police investigation after posting several memes mocking the Russian Orthodox Church and state. She is accused of inciting hatred and insulting religious sentiments, for which she could face up to six years in prison; her name was added to an official list of “terrorist and extremists.”[1] Motuznaya’s case is just another example of the Russian authorities’ willingness to uphold strict blasphemy laws.

Meanwhile, members of the LGBTI community remain exposed to hate speech, discrimination and violence.[2] Yet the Russian delegation reported “that there had been no incidents of discrimination against LGBTI persons.”[3]

Notably, Russia rejected the recommended repeal of its Federal Law No. 135-FZ on the reasoning that: “In Russia, any form of restriction of the rights of citizens on the grounds of social, racial, sexual, national, linguistic, religious and any other belonging is prohibited.”[4] Yet, this law criminalises “propaganda” of “non-traditional sexual relationships” and directly discriminates against people on the grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Further, the language of the law is deeply derogatory.

We call on Russia to start taking seriously its own promises on non-discrimination, and allow people to freely express who they are, whom they love, what they think and what they believe – even if that happens to go against the state’s understanding of “traditional values.”


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-45247879; last retrieved 20.09.18.

[2] A/HRC/WG.6/30/RUS/2, para. 13;

http://hatecrime.osce.org/russian-federation; last retrieved 20.09.18.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/alone-and-in-fear-ordeal-of-married-gay-couple-forced-to-flee-russia, last retrieved 20.09.18.

https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/06/14/fifa-world-cup-russia-gay-fan-brain-injuries-brutal-attack/, last retrieved 20.09.18.


https://themoscowtimes.com/news/over-100-people-fled-chechnhya-since-anti-gay-crackdown-lgbt-network-says-61042, last retrieved 20.09.18.

[3] A/HRC/39/13, para 139.

[4] A/HRC/39/13/Add.1, para 11.

Suggested academic reference

'UPR Statement on Russia', Humanists International

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