UN appoints rapporteur on human rights in Russia

The UN Human Rights Council on Oct. 7 voted to create a special rapporteur on human rights in Russia. The resolution was adopted on a vote of 17 in favor, 6 against, and 24 abstentions. The Council authorizes the rapporteur to operate for a year, with a mandate to monitor the rights situation in the Russian Federation; to collect, examine and assess relevant information from all stakeholders; to make recommendations; and to present comprehensive reports to the Council and to the General Assembly. The Council also strongly urged the Russian authorities to comply with all obligations under international human rights law.

The move follows harsh laws instated in Russia this year that have forced the closure of human rights groups, including Memorial Human Rights Centre, which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 7 along with Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties and imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski.

According to rights groups, a series of laws passed in Russia have effectively criminalized criticism of and reporting on the Ukraine war, and forced independent media to close down. Thousands now face charges for anti-war dissent, such as wearing the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine's flag. Laws on "foreign agents" and "undesirable organizations" have been used to repress civil society, and criminalize anyone associated with independent groups.

The move marks the first time that the 16-year-old Human Rights Council has set up a special rapporteur to examine the rights record of a permanent member of the Security Council.

On Sept. 20, several human rights organizations wrote to the Council to call for the establishment of a special rapporteur for Russia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry firmly rejected the resolution, saying it contained false allegations.

From Jurist, Oct. 8. Used with permission.

See our last report on Russia's harsh crackdown on dissent.

Russian Justice Ministry orders another rights group closed

Russia's Justice Ministry has filed for a court order to shut down one of the country's most prominent and respected human rights organizations. In its legal filing, the Justice Ministry claimed that the Moscow Helsinki Group had violated unspecified "legal requirements" while carrying out its activities.

Founded in 1976 by a group of Russian dissidents led by Soviet physicist Yuri Orlov, the group was named for the landmark 1975 Helsinki Accords on human rights and grew to become one of the principal civil society mechanisms for exposing human rights abuses in both the Soviet Union and Russia. (Mosow Times)

Moscow Helsinki Group closed by court order

A Russian court on Jan. 25 ordered the shut-down of the country's oldest human rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, established in 1976 by Soviet dissidents. A judge reportedly took less than 20 minutes to rule in favor of a motion by the Justice Ministry to dissolve the group, one of the last independent human rights organizations in Russia. (EuroNews)