Quote for the Week. “The Russian authorities have constructed a legal landscape that is inconsistent with international standards” – Amnesty International, FIDH, HRHF and HRW

Week-ending 9 July 2021

“In recent years and particularly in recent months, the Russian authorities have constructed a legal landscape
that is inconsistent with international standards, including the ICCPR and the ECHR, to which Russia is a
party, and have arbitrarily applied those laws to oppress and target independent voices, from political and
civil society groups and figures, to media outlets, to large groups of peaceful protesters.”

– Amnesty International, Fédération Internationale pour les Droits Humains (FIDH, International Federation for Human Rights), Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights Watch

‘Open letter to Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva,’ Amnesty International, 7 July 2021


Amnesty International, 7 July 2021: We the undersigned civil society organizations are gravely concerned about the state and trajectory of the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation. The politically motivated prosecution and arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Aleksei Navalny, his colleagues, associates and supporters, as well as outlawing organizations linked with him, have shed light on the wide range of human rights violations that are being committed by the authorities.

RFE/RL, 8 July 2021: A group of leading rights organizations has urged the United Nations to condemn the deterioration of civil rights in Russia, which has “constructed a legal landscape that is inconsistent” with international standards. In an open letter to the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights House Foundation, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) noted that, while a recent session of the UN Human Rights Council put a spotlight on the “alarming trend” in Russia, the situation has only worsened since.

Other news this week:

The Guardian, 5 July 2021: An upmarket Russian supermarket chain has issued a public apology after it posted an advert featuring a lesbian couple who shopped at its store. VkusVill’s decision to pull the ad has provoked an angry backlash from Moscow liberals and other Russian LGBTQ allies, who have criticised the supermarket chain’s “cowardice” and said they would be boycotting the store.

The Moscow Times, 5 July 2021: Exiled former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said he plans to relocate the employees of his media projects out of Russia or close them altogether over state pressure on dissent. Khodorkovsky launched the Open Media and MBKh Media outlets in 2017 after Russian authorities blacklisted as “undesirable” his pro-democracy NGO Open Russia, banning its activities within the country. Last week, Russian prosecutors added four other Khodorkovsky-linked civil society and educational groups, all based abroad, to its list of “undesirable” organizations.

The Moscow Times, 6 July 2021: Valentina Andreeva graduated in 2018 with degrees in economics and music, one from St. Petersburg State University and one from Bard College in the U.S., which co-founded the Russian institution’s liberal arts faculty.  “You can travel, you can study and you can make friends from all over the world, not only from the U.S.,” she said of her experience. Such experiences are likely to become relics of the past after Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on June 22 labeled the prestigious U.S. college an “undesirable” organization, accusing it of “threatening the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.”

Human Rights Watch, 8 July 2021: Last week, VkusVill, a prominent Russian food market chain, ran an online advertisement entitled “Family Happiness Recipe” that featured, among others, a family that included several lesbian women. In Russia, where discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is written into law, the boldness of VkusVill’s gesture cannot be underestimated. The chain posted the ad with an 18+ age marker to avoid liability under Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda” law, emphasized in the opening paragraph that “not talking about our customers’ real families would be an act of hypocrisy” and described the featured families as “different but equally charming.”

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