LONDON, England – In a statement issued March 25, ambassador Neil Bush raises UK concerns about limits to freedom of assembly and expression in Russia at the OSCE Permanent Council.
“Peaceful assembly and association,” ambassador Bush said, “including peaceful protest, is a vital means for citizens to express concerns and a foundation of pluralistic democracy. It provides an important safeguard of freedom of expression and the right to political participation,” he added. “Where citizens cannot freely raise their concerns, states risk failure to meet their international human rights obligations. The freedoms of assembly and association are also an essential part of the OSCE acquis since the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. The UK, like several other participating States, wishes to register its concern about the detention of approximately 200 individuals, the majority of whom are elected lawmakers, at a meeting in Moscow on March 13 and the opening of administrative cases against many of those detained. This is a blatant attempt by the Russian authorities to constrict political activity,” he said.
The arrests of March 13 followed the detention of thousands of peaceful protesters across Russia in January. The UK previously expressed our deep concern over these detentions and called upon Russia to release without delay or condition those detained arbitrarily for exercising their right of peaceful assembly.
“This persistent suppression of individual expression is unacceptable and further undermines political plurality and independent voices in Russia,” and that “Russia must respect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression and end the persecution of independent voices. Once again, we call on Russia to demonstrate its commitment to its international human rights obligations, including its commitments in the OSCE,” ambassador Bush said.