Russians abroad: without right to have rights

Russians abroad: without right to have rights

Speaking at the 6th World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad on November 1, President Vladimir Putin noted: "Tensions and unpredictability are growing. The foundations of international law are being eroded, and long-term agreements between states are crumbling. Russophobia and, regrettably, other forms of extreme aggressive nationalism are being employed. There is no concealing the fact that a war on memorials and the Russian language is underway in Ukraine, the Baltics and several other countries. People are being intimidated and even terrorised. A natural desire to preserve one’s ethnic roots is denounced as a crime and a form of separatism. The freedom of speech and the right to keep up one’s traditions are defied. Some of our compatriots have been denied the right to practice their professions for political reasons." On the eve of the International Day against Fascism, Racism and Anti-Semitism, which is marked on November 9, the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights prepared the report “Russians abroad: without right to have rights”, dedicated to discrimination of compatriots and Russians abroad on grounds of language, political or other beliefs and origin.

The member of two Councils under the President of the Russian Federation - for Civil Society and Human Rights and for Interethnic Relations, Alexander Brod, noted that Russia is involved in a large-scale confrontation with the Western world, the largest since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Economic sanctions are actively applied against our country, information campaigns are conducted to discredit its domestic and foreign policies, a policy of double standards has been openly pursued. The number of violations of the rights of Russians who live temporarily or permanently outside the Russian Federation, against compatriots, against tourists, diplomats, journalists and experts has increased dramatically. These incidents are multifaceted, dealing with a wide range of issues, including illegal detention, arrests, the creation of obstacles for diplomatic and journalistic work, interference with privacy, defamation and provocations."

According to Alexander Brod, the first section of the report - “Extradition, arrest, detention” - tells about the widespread practice of extradition of Russian citizens, detained or arrested in third countries, to the United States. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, despite repeated calls for Russian-U.S. cooperation, there are still cases of unacceptable practices for hunting Russians around the world. The number of incidents of this kind exceeded three dozen. It was noted back in 2017, but now such things happen more often. Moscow has repeatedly said that Russia does not recognize the use of American law practiced by the United States, American jurisdiction throughout the world outside the rules of international law, but Washington completely ignores this position of Russia. In this context, the cases of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko became the most resonant cases, although this practice is not limited to them. Moreover, people live in difficult conditions, without the necessary medical care, without meetings with diplomats, lawyers, relatives. The appeals of human rights defenders authorized for human rights in Russia are completely ignored.

“The expulsion of diplomats is an extreme measure, which is usually avoided by countries, but nevertheless, we outlined several facts of resonant expulsions of Russian diplomats in the report. 2014 - Canada, 2014 - Poland, 2016 - United States, 35 Russian diplomats accused of violating diplomatic activities were exiled, five Russian diplomats were declared persona non grata in May 2017, 23 Russian diplomats were exiled in March 2018, the Greek government in July expelled two Russian diplomats who were accused of interference in internal affairs, illegal acts against national security, attempts to gather information as well as unsuccessful attempts to bribe Greek officials. Often these accusations are unproven and highly politicized," Brod said.

The report mentions last September searches in the Russian consulate general in San Francisco and two buildings of the Russian trade mission in Washington and New York. And one more new trend - access to the UN is being blocked for delegations whose opinion does not fit into the official agenda of the West. In particular, this November, access was denied to representatives of the Russian delegation.

According to the chairman of the Russian Civic Chamber's Commission for the Development of Public Diplomacy, Humanitarian Cooperation and Traditional Values, the first deputy chairman of the International Public Fund 'Russian Peace Foundation' Yelena Sutormina, all these facts are partly explained by the fact that centers for countering Russian propaganda in the West and Europe are actively created now: “The U.S. State Department allocates huge funds, including to non-governmental organizations. Today, about 25-30 million of our compatriots live abroad. Many of them are subjected to pressure and rights violations in current realities. This October, the United Nations named Latvia and Lithuania, where the term "non-citizens" is used, leaders in discrimination against Russians in Europe. In the Baltic countries, they try to limit in every way the right of our compatriots to use Russian. There are not just attempts to prohibit it in teaching, but also in communication, because in everyday life people in store often refuse to sell something if the buyer speaks Russian. Even doctors refuse to accept children of parents who speak Russian. I'm not talking about pressure on actions, events for activists who hold memory actions, in particular devoted to the Great Patriotic War."

Sutormina separately noted the topic of combating historical monuments: “In Poland, a decision was made to demolish 500 monuments. There was a case recently, when a monument was demolished in Lithuania. In the Russian Civic Chamber we are trying to resist such attempts, after each such glaring case we send an appeal to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, to the OSCE, to the UN. But in 90% of cases we receive no answer. However, recently the OSCE said  that they are worried about what is happening in Ukraine. We call on international human rights organizations - Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders - to be more active."

Elena Sutormina focused on the pressure on the Russian media - Sputnik, Russia Today: “There is a blatant situation in Ukraine. There are cracking down on independent media, different forces are used in the Internet, social networks with Russophobic themes that are used by official authorities of various countries. One of our tasks is to provide more active participation of Russian NGOs at international platforms - the UNHRC, OSCE, UNESCO."

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