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Russia: Human Rights

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions have taken place between his Department and the Russian Government on human rights in Russia; what progress was made during these discussions; and if he will make a statement. (158098)

We have a mature and frank relationship with Russia on a wide range of human rights and democracy issues. We don't shy away from making our concerns known and Russia in turn have issues they raise with us.

We most recently raised our concerns through the EU/Russia Human Rights Consultations on 3 October. The EU raised a number of specific concerns about the human rights situation in Russia, particularly regarding freedom of expression and assembly, specifically in regard to the run-up to the parliamentary and presidential elections. Other concerns raised related to freedom of the press, the position of Russian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society following the entry into force of the law on NGO activities and the counter-extremism law, as well as respect for the rule of law and the situation in the Northern Caucasus. The two sides also discussed the issues of minorities, combating torture and maltreatment as well as the issue of women rights, including trafficking.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on human rights violations in Russia; what assessment he has made of those reports; and if he will make a statement. (158154)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office closely monitors the human rights situation in Russia and remains concerned about the ongoing reports of human rights violations, which we receive from our embassy in Moscow, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Russia media sources.

Our main concern is that these reports indicate a further shrinking of the democratic space in Russia, primarily through the recent NGO and anti-extremist laws and the restrictions imposed on opposition parties. There are concerns that this shrinking could worsen in the lead up to the parliamentary elections in December and the 2008 presidential elections. Other human rights concerns include: the restrictions on media freedom and increased risk to journalists safety; the rise in attacks on ethnic, racial and religious minorities; the increasing use of forced psychiatric treatment and detention; and the ongoing reports of extra-judicial killings, torture, abduction and arbitrary detention in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus.