Press Releases Russia: Speech on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate

Russia: Speech on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate

Grazie Presidente!

Honourable Members [of the European Parliament],

The European Union has a longstanding and clear position on Russia’s “foreign agent” law. The legislation goes against human rights and commitments, which Russia has assumed under European and international human rights law, including the European Convention on Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

Russia’s list of “undesirable organisations” is growing, including European NGOs. This leaves Russian civil society activists and knowledgeable and engaged experts and partners more isolated.

The decision taken by the Russian Prosecutor General on the 26th of May to list three German NGOs as “undesirable organisations” is the most recent example of the Russian authorities’ disregard for a vibrant civil society. This decision ultimately harms the interests of Russian people and possibilities for open and free dialogue.

The European Union has repeatedly condemned the “foreign agent” legislation and called the Russian authorities to repeal it. It is essential that Russian citizens are able to exercise freedom of association, including the right to join and participate in non-governmental organisations, which promote the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

On 31 May, Andrei Pivovarov, a former Executive Director of Open Russia, was removed from a plane in Saint Petersburg and detained for alleged violations of the law on so-called “undesirable organisations.” The European Union has called on the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him. This case is not an isolated incident but confirms a continuous pattern of shrinking space for civil society, the opposition, critical voices and independent media in Russia.

The European Union fully supports the key role played by independent NGOs in developing mutual understanding across borders. We will continue supporting Russian human rights activists and civil society as we do worldwide. We hear from those activists that our support is vital and greatly appreciated.

We will keep monitoring developments in Russia, holding the Russian authorities to account when they do not respect fundamental rights enshrined in its constitution, and in international conventions. We will insist on the need to respect the decisions of the Strasbourg Court and, in general, the Council of Europe conventions that anchor Russia and the European Union in democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

I thank you.

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