1410th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 8 September 2021
The European Union is concerned by the situation in the Russian Federation ahead of the State Duma elections scheduled for 17-19 September 2021, including the reports about growing pressure on opposition figures and dissenting voices, such as the recent labelling of the independent vote monitor “Golos”, the independent television channel Dozhd and the investigative media portal iStories as “foreign agents”. The EU has repeatedly voiced its concerns related to the Russian legislation on “foreign agents” law and other laws that run counter to Russia’s international human rights law obligations, including with regard to freedom of expression and association.
The EU regrets that the restrictions imposed on the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission made such a mission in line with the OSCE/ODIHR mandate impossible. In this context, the EU recalls that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSCE/ODIHR has been able to successfully deploy several Election Observation Missions in a manner that respected the need to prevent the spread of the virus.
One year on from Alexei Navalny’s poisoning on 20 August 2020, the EU continues to urge the Russian Federation to investigate this assassination attempt in full transparency and without further delay, and to fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure an impartial international investigation. The EU has condemned the attempt to assassinate Mr Navalny, and has responded by imposing restrictive measures.
We recall that Mr Navalny’s continued detention is based on court decisions which the European Court of Human Rights determined to be arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable, and we reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release. Moreover, we are concerned by the new criminal charges brought against him and members of his team, as well as the outlawing of Mr Navalny’s anti-corruption organisation and the subsequent closing of his regional offices ahead of the State Duma elections in September. Those measures are potentially depriving thousands of their right to stand for elections.
The cumulative impact of these developments, in conjunction with a raft of measures constraining the work of NGOs, independent media and individuals in Russia, results in further infringement of fundamental freedoms.
The EU urges the Russian authorities to stop their campaign on dissenting voices, opposition figures, civil society organisations and independent media. We note the concerns expressed by the Venice Commission in its July 2021 opinion on the amendments of laws affecting “foreign agents” and call on the Russian authorities to review current legislation accordingly. We expect Russia to uphold its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to ensure full respect of European human rights standards and to guarantee the preconditions for free and fair elections.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, United Kingdom and Ukraine