‘Hold Putin to account at G20 and Council of Europe’, MEPs say

Friday, 30 August 2013

Members of the European Parliament are calling on EU leaders and the Council of Europe to denounce Russia’s increasingly forceful crackdown against minorities.

G20 and Council of Europe

In the past year, several laws were adopted to curtail the rights of minorities, and attack non-governmental organisations defending human rights.

Latest examples include the Foreign Agents law and several homophobic ‘anti-propaganda’ laws. Under them, St. Petersburg-based organisation Side by Side (Bok o Bok) LGBT Film Festival was recently fined €9,500, forcing them to shut down.

Numerous other human rights NGOs are legally threatened, or already fined. Several organisations united under the Keep Hope Alive campaign asking political leaders to put Russia before its international obligations.

The laws have also directly led to an increase in violent attacks against ethnic minorities and LGBT people.

MEPs sent a letter to José Manuel Barroso, Herman van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, asking them to raise these important matters during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next week.

They have also asked the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to consider suspending Russia’s right to vote in the organisation, according to Article 8 of its own Statute.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, explained: “Whether it is the propaganda laws, the Foreign Agents law or more legislation restricting the rights of minorities and migrants, Mr Putin’s regime is following a dangerous path.”

“EU leaders cannot ignore that more red lines have been crossed, and they must hold Mr Putin to account at the G20 next week.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “Russia is chipping away at the three central pillars of modern Europe: democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. It’s time for the Council of Europe to take action and suspend Russia’s voting rights.”

“Mr Putin is losing the plot: these laws don’t reflect Russia’s values, they don’t reflect European values, they reflect Putin’s ever-tighter hand of steel. It’s high time to act!”

The European Parliament already adopted a resolution on the rule of law in Russia in June this year.

(Edited on 30 August at 14:30: We wrongly reported that Coming Out and their Director had been fined, whereas their fine was overturned by a higher court. It is the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival whose fine was upheld.)


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