A Year After Moscow Mechanism Report, Human Rights Situation Worsens
Clear Link Between Repression and Aggression
In a united front, 47 participating states, including Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, and more, have come together to issue a resounding condemnation of Russia’s ongoing human rights violations and military aggression.
This joint speech, delivered in Vienna on behalf of these nations, highlights the alarming situation in Russia and its repercussions not only within its borders but also on the international stage.
Moscow Mechanism Report Echoes Today’s Reality
One year ago, a report released under the Moscow Mechanism on September 22, 2022, revealed a disturbing connection between Russia’s internal repression of human rights and its external aggression.
The report stated that the Russian elite believed that to initiate a war with another nation, they must ensure there was no internal dissent. This belief led to severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms.
Escalating Aggression and Repression
Sadly, today, Professor Nußberger’s report remains shockingly relevant. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine persists, and the human rights situation within Russia has deteriorated further. The Russian government continues to systematically curtail human rights and suppress civic space by cracking down on independent media, harassing lawyers, and imprisoning civic activists and human rights defenders.
Notable organizations, such as Memorial, Moscow Helsinki Group, and the Sakharov Center, have been forced to close their doors.
A Generalized Repression
The wave of repression is widespread, affecting anyone who dares to express dissent. While specific groups like ethnic and religious minorities, journalists, and opposition politicians were previously targets, the oppression has now become a generalized phenomenon. Authorities subject citizens who exercise their right to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly to unjust and arbitrary sentences under restrictive penal codes.
Voices of Dissent Persist
Despite the increasing repression, some individuals in Russia continue to stand up against the Kremlin’s authoritarian regime. However, their efforts are met with severe punishment. Prominent figures like Vladimir Kara-Murza (sentenced to 25 years), Alexey Navalny (sentenced to 19 years), Ilya Yashin (sentenced to 8.5 years), and many more face imprisonment for merely expressing their opinions contrary to government propaganda.
Orwellian Dystopia Unfolding
The situation in Russia is rapidly approaching an Orwellian dystopia. Citizens face suppression and persecution for daring to voice their opinions, challenging government narratives, and advocating for change.
Memorial Report Sheds Light on Repression
In August of this year, Memorial, a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a prominent human rights organization, published a 200-page report on political repression in Russia in 2022.
This report paints a grim picture of continuing repression and confirms the trends outlined in Prof. Nußberger’s report. It highlights that Russian laws frequently contradict the rule of law and serve as a pretext for targeting opposition voices.
OSCE and International Appeal
The joint statement concludes with a strong appeal to Russia to honor its international commitments and obligations regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as OSCE principles and commitments. The coalition calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
OSCE’s Role in Promoting Human Rights
Furthermore, the participating states call on the OSCE to prioritize addressing critical human rights and fundamental freedom issues within Russia. They emphasize that these issues not only threaten democratic stability but also peace and security across the OSCE region and could have unpredictable consequences at national and international levels.
A Reminder of the Helsinki Final Act
The statement serves as a reminder of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which underscores the universal significance of human rights and fundamental freedoms as essential factors for peace, justice, and well-being.
The coalition pledges to support civil society actors whose work aligns with the values on which the OSCE was founded, reaffirming their commitment to defend these fundamental principles.