30th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group
Geneva, May 14, 2018
Thank you Mr. President.
We are deeply troubled by restrictions on the rights of members of the political opposition, independent media, civil society, and religious and other minority groups in Russia. The legislature and courts remain controlled by the executive, which is not subject to democratic elections. NGOs describe over 140 political prisoners in the country, including nearly 100 imprisoned for religious beliefs. Some are from the Ukrainian territory of Crimea under Russia’s illegal occupation. As it uses its monopoly over broadcast media to propagandize the public, the government increasingly seeks to control and criminalize online free speech or narratives inconsistent with the government line.
We are alarmed by reports of ongoing serious human rights violations and abuses, particularly allegations of extrajudicial killings, detention and torture of LGBTI persons and other individuals in Chechnya by forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov. As Russia prides itself on providing security for all of its citizens, it is surprising and deeply regrettable that Moscow may have lost control over the human rights situation in Chechnya.
The United States, therefore, recommends the following:
Release all political prisoners held in Russia and occupied Crimea;
- Demonstrate that Russian laws apply in Chechnya by investigating reports of torture and other human rights violations and abuses, and holding those responsible accountable;
- Relinquish de facto executive control over the media, parliament, and courts, and repeal or amend legislation used to criminalize normal societal discourse, such as those on “extremism,” foreign agents, undesirable foreign organizations, anonymizer bans, and internet blacklisting, as well as the “Yarovaya amendments,” which are used to criminalize normal societal discourse, so that all its laws are consistent with Russia’s human rights obligations and commitments.