I have written to the Commission many times requesting intervention on issues concerning the defence of democracy and human rights in Russia. This time is no different, as I have received yet more disconcerting information on this subject. As the Commission is no doubt aware, an opposition rally is held in Russia on the last day of every month which has 31 days in defence of freedom of assembly. Every rally ends with the arrest of opposition activists.
On 31 December 2009 Sergei Mokhnatkin, a passer-by who came to the aid of a 70-year old woman, was brutally beaten up and arrested. The incident was confirmed by nine eyewitnesses. However, it turned out that in Mokhnatkin’s case the police intervention did not end there. In June 2010 the 56-year-old Mokhnatkin was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for using violence against a police officer. At his trial the right of defence of the accused was violated as none of the eyewitnesses to the incident on 31 December 2009 were permitted to testify.
1. These repeated human rights violations in Russia lead me once again to ask the Commission to intervene. Could the Commission also indicate whether the question of freedom of assembly — and the brutal suppression of opposition rallies by Russia’s OMON special police — was raised at any of the recent consultations on human rights between the European Union and Russia?
2. I would point out that the consultation in March 2010 took place under the slogan ‘human rights defender — a dangerous occupation’. The Commission announced ahead of that consultation that one of the many topics to be addressed was the issue of freedom of speech, assembly and the media. What progress have the consultations made on this issue?