20 May 2022
by Karinna Moskalenko, human rights lawyer and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
There is a “Ministerial” in Turin (Italy) today – that’s the name for a meeting of the Committee of Ministers, attended once a year by the foreign ministers (their deputies) of all the countries in the Council of Europe. There are 46 delegations at this session rather than 47. It’s the first time Russia has not taken part. Russia has been thrown out of the Council of Europe and is no longer a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Our country, Russia, has been ejected to the sidelines of history. This is a vast loss for us and we have not yet fully understood it. And the disintegration process is only just beginning.
There are political, economic and reputational consequences for the state itself, which can only be regretted. But the most serious consequences are for Russians, whose individual rights are no longer protected by international standards. While madmen of all stripes, grades and ranks are now competing with one another as to how to make the most sophisticated use of Russia’s “badass” status: one delightedly communicates the prospect of bringing back the death penality, another cheerfully reports that damages will no longer be paid. A third civil servant goes as far as…
And where are our people, the Russians from whom all this is being taken away, in whose country all this is happening? Why are they silent?
All my lawyer colleagues are constantly tormenting one another with questions: and what if this principle no longer works in legal proceedings? If this guarantee no longer operates???
Yes, colleagues, it has always been difficult for us to defend our people in court, given the judicial nihilism that prevails in the country and now all this judicial and legal reform – and this is a great tragedy for the Russians – has been rolled back. This is genuinely painful for everyone, especially those who have devoted decades of their lives to human rights. For this reason, I lost my temper yesterday and issued some seditious statements when a meeting of representatives of civil society in Europe was held ahead of the Ministerial. We have struggled for so many years for civil society to play a part in the life of Europe, to be heard and our position taken into account … and it is now the case for people in the whole of Europe but not any longer for Russians…
And so I was bursting to deliver a highly unpopular idea. At a time when the Russian authorities are triumphant at their rejection of everyone and all obligations and Europe has finally given a sigh of relief at its deliverance from a “hooligan” state, I allowed myself to say the following:
Thirty years ago the Council of Europe did not accept Russia which was engaged at the time in a “special operation” in Chechnya! All together we achieved Russia’s entry to the Council of Europe, having stopped the bloody anti-Chechen campaign. But those responsible did not face due liability and lessons were not learnt. And now, 30 years later, we are in next horrendous loop of the same cycle.
And so, the proposal I put forward:
This time all the necessary lessons must be learnt and a new drive to join the Council of Europe begun. But first of all the current MADNESS must be stopped!
Translated by Melanie Moore