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Russia: Legal System

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 25 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they last raised with the government of Russia (a) the detention in psychiatric hospitals of members of opposition parties and their treatment without proper consent; (b) the use of invented criminal charges against opposition members; (c) arrests and beatings of non-violent demonstrators; (d) the unexplained deaths of 47 journalists since 1992; and (e) the new offences of extremism and humiliating national pride. [HL5959]

The Government continue to be concerned about human rights in Russia, including psychiatric detention, media freedom, journalists’ safety, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and actively look for ways to raise them with the Russian authorities. The most recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office human rights report highlights these concerns. All of these issues were raised bilaterally in the human rights consultations held in February 2007 and we are pressing the Russian Government to agree the date of the next round of bilateral discussions. They were also raised in EU/Russia human rights consultations on 20 October 2008. The EU has previously raised individual cases of alleged politically motivated forced psychiatric treatment.

The Government have also made representations, both bilaterally and with our EU partners, on the extremist activity law, including extension of the legal definition of extremism to include “the abasement of national dignity” and “public slander of a state official”.

In addition, we currently fund the International Federation of Journalists and the Russian Union of Journalists to support media independence and the defence of journalists’ rights. In the North Caucasus we are supporting projects run by the BBC, Article 19 and the Institute of War & Peace Reporting.