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Procedure : 2018/2560(RSP)
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Texts tabled :

RC-B8-0096/2018

Debates :

PV 08/02/2018 - 8.1
CRE 08/02/2018 - 8.1

Votes :

PV 08/02/2018 - 12.1

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0034

Texts adopted
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Thursday, 8 February 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
Russia, the case of Oyub Titiev and the Human Rights Centre Memorial
P8_TA(2018)0034B8-0096, 0098, 0099, 0102, 0105 and 0106/2018

European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on Russia, the case of Oyub Titiev and the Human Rights Centre Memorial (2018/2560(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 13 June 2013 on the rule of law in Russia(1) , 13 March 2014 on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events(2) , 23 October 2014 on the closing-down of the NGO ‘Memorial’ (winner of the 2009 Sakharov Prize) in Russia(3) , of 12 March 2015 on the murder of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and the state of democracy in Russia(4) , of 24 November 2016 on case of Ildar Dadin, prisoner of conscience in Russia(5) and of 6 April 2017 on Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors(6) ,

–  having regard to the statement by the Chairs of Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Human Rights of 12 January 2018 calling for the immediate release of human rights defender Oyub Titiev,

–  having regard to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to which the Russian Federation is a party,

–  having regard to the EU statement of 19 January 2018 on human rights violations concerning the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Russia and the statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 11 January 2018 on the detention of the Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Chechen Republic, Mr Oyub Titiev,

–  having regard to the visit by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation in November-December 2017,

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998,

–  having regard to the existing Agreement on partnership and cooperation (PCA) establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Russian Federation, of the other part and to the suspended negotiations for a new EU-Russia agreement,

–  having regard to the seventh periodic report of the Russian Federation considered by the UN Human Rights Committee at its 3136th and 3137th meetings, held on 16 and 17 March 2015,

–  having regard to the European Council Guidelines of 24 June 2013 to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights; whereas Russia has the obligation and the means to investigate the crimes carried out by the Chechen authorities; whereas the Russian Federation has ratified 11 out of the 18 international human rights treaties;

B.  whereas Oyub Titiev, the Chechnya office director at the 2009 Sakharov Prize-winning human rights organisation, the Memorial Human Rights Centre (commonly known as Memorial), was arrested on 9 January 2018 by Chechen police and charged with drug possession; whereas these charges have been denied by Mr Titiev and denounced as fabricated by NGOs and other human rights defenders;

C.  whereas on 25 January 2018 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic upheld the decision of the Shalinsky City Court to remand Oyub Titiev in custody for two months;

D.  whereas the criminal law of the Russian Federation has been amended and a new Article 212.1 has been introduced, under which a person may be charged in the event of violation of the law on public assemblies, notwithstanding the fact that this amendment restricts the freedom of speech and assembly;

E.  whereas Russian authorities show a tendency towards disrespecting the right of free assembly and detained more than 1 000 demonstrating citizens in the City of Moscow alone and numerous more in several other cities of the Russian Federation after the peaceful demonstrations held on 26 March 2017;

F.  whereas the number of political prisoners in the country has significantly increased in recent years, amounting to 102 persons in 2016, according to the Memorial Human Rights Centre;

G.  whereas the NGO law of 2012 has severely restricted NGOs’ ability to work independently and to operate in an effective manner; whereas, under this law, Memorial has been designated a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice;

H.  whereas Yuri Dmitriev, a Memorial historian, was part of the team that found a mass grave of more than 9 000 people at Sandarmokh, many of them members of the Soviet intelligentsia; whereas, in recent years, Memorial has become the last remaining independent human rights organisation that continues to operate in the Republic of Chechnya; whereas it is very likely that the attacks on human rights defenders in the Chechen Republic, including the fabricated criminal charges against Oyub Titiev and arson attacks in neighbouring republics, were orchestrated in retaliation against Memorial for exposing and seeking justice for human rights violations in Chechnya;

I.  whereas Parliament awarded the 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Memorial human rights group;

J.  whereas in the Economist Democracy Index 2017, Russia ranks 135th out of 167 countries, which marks a significant decline in comparison with the country’s ranking as 102nd in 2006;

K.  whereas there is a high level of concern regarding the human rights abuses of LGBTI people in Chechnya; whereas the Russian Federation is a signatory to several international human rights treaties and, as member of the Council of Europe, to the European Convention on Human Rights, and thus has the duty to ensure the safety of all persons who may be at risk; whereas the EU has repeatedly offered additional assistance and expertise to help Russia to modernise and abide by its constitutional and legal order, in line with Council of Europe standards; whereas Russia has the obligation and the means to investigate the crimes carried out by the Chechen authorities; whereas homosexuality was decriminalised in the Russian Federation in 1993;

1.  Calls for the immediate release of the Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Chechen Republic, Mr Oyub Titiev, who was detained on 9 January 2018 and then officially indicted and remanded on trumped-up charges of illegal acquisition and possession of narcotics; urges the Russian authorities to ensure full respect for Mr Titiev’s human and legal rights, including access to a lawyer and medical care, physical integrity and dignity, and protection from judicial harassment, criminalisation and arbitrary arrest;

2.  Deplores the statement by the Chechen authorities accusing the work of human rights defenders and organisations; notes with concern that the arrest comes shortly after public remarks by Mr Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, who appears to condone violence against human rights defenders;

3.  Is of the opinion that the arrest of Mr Titiev is part of a worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidations and discreditations of independent journalists and human rights defenders working in Chechnya; points out that other cases that form part of this worrying trend include the arrests of the chair of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, Ruslan Kutaev, and the journalist Zhalaudi Geriev, who were both sentenced on dubious grounds relating to drugs in 2014 and 2016, respectively;

4.  Expresses its deep concern over the fact that no one has yet been brought to justice for the murder of Mr Oyub Titiev’s Memorial predecessor and human rights activist in Chechnya, Ms Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted from outside her home in Grozny in July 2009 and was found shot dead later the same day near the village of Gazi-Yurt in neighbouring Ingushetia; urges the Russian authorities to pursue genuine investigations into this crime; recalls, in this regard, that yet another human rights lawyer and activist, Stanislav Markelov, known for his work on Chechnyan abuses, was shot dead in central Moscow in 2009;

5.  Urges the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to the worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidations and discreditations of independent journalists and human rights defenders working in that region of the Russian Federation, in breach of their right to free expression; condemns attacks on human rights defenders by the Chechen authorities, and urges Moscow to put an end to these attacks and to foster a normal working climate for human rights defenders and organisations in Chechnya and other parts of the Russian Federation;

6.  Expresses deep concern at the worsening conditions for critical civil society in Russia, in particular those organisations that work on human rights and democratic freedoms and express criticism of state policies in this regard; underlines that Memorial, the 2009 Sakharov Prize winner, remains one of the most authoritative voices on human rights in Russia today, and has become the last remaining independent human rights organisation to continue to operate in the Republic of Chechnya, and expresses its solidarity and strong support for its dedicated work;

7.  Calls on the Russian authorities to protect all Russian citizens from unlawful abuse; calls on the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to the crackdown on free expression in Chechnya, and to provide effective security guarantees to victims and witnesses of abuses and bring perpetrators of abuses to justice; underlines that Russia and its government carries the ultimate responsibility for investigating these acts, for bringing perpetrators to justice and for protecting all Russian citizens from unlawful abuse;

8.  Points out that yet another sign of the persecution and harassment suffered by human rights organisations in the North Caucasus region was the arson attack on 17 January 2018 against the offices of Memorial in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia, and the attack on 22 January 2018 when unknown arsonists set fire on a car belonging to Memorial’s local office in Dagestan; condemns these attacks and urges the Russian authorities to investigate effectively these and other attacks against Memorial’s property, and threats against its staff, and to ensure that those responsible are held to account;

9.  Calls on the Russian authorities, as a matter of urgency, to conduct immediate, independent, objective and thorough investigations into the deplorable developments in Chechenia; calls on the Chechen authorities, and those of the Russian Federation, to abide by domestic legislation and international commitments, to uphold the rule of law and universal human rights standards and to ensure the safety and democratic freedoms of all persons who may be at risk;

10.  Takes note of the request by Memorial to investigate Titiev’s case outside of Chechnya;

11.  Condemns the attacks against other civil society groups and NGOs in Chechnya, including the attacks and smear campaign against the Joint Mobile Group of Human Rights Defenders in Chechnya (JMG), which led to the group’s withdrawal from Chechnya for security reasons in 2016;

12.  Expresses its deep concern over the reports of arbitrary detention and torture of people perceived to be LGBTI in the Republic of Chechnya; calls on the authorities to end this campaign of persecution and to allow international human rights organisations to conduct a credible investigation into the alleged crimes; condemns also the killing of individuals by family members in so called ‘honour killings’ and deplores the Chechen authorities’ support for, and encouragement of, these crimes;

13.  Calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to assist those who have fled Chechnya and to bring this campaign of abuse into the open; welcomes the fact that a number of Member States have granted asylum to such victims, and calls on all Member States to continue or step up asylum request procedures for victims, journalists and human rights defenders, in accordance with European and national law;

14.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and on the EEAS, to ensure that all cases of persons prosecuted for political reasons are raised in EU-Russia human rights consultations, when resumed, and that Russia’s representatives in these consultations are formally requested to respond in each case and to report back to Parliament on their exchanges with the Russian authorities;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, and the Chechen authorities.

(1) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 150.
(2) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 250.
(3) OJ C 274, 27.7.2016, p. 21.
(4) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 126.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0446.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0125

Last updated: 9 October 2018Legal notice