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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in Bolotnaya Square events

11.3.2014 - (2014/2628(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Kristiina Ojuland, Marietje Schaake, Sophia in 't Veld, Louis Michel, Leonidas Donskis, Sarah Ludford, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Marielle de Sarnez, Robert Rochefort, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Ivo Vajgl, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Phil Bennion on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0245/2014

Procedura : 2014/2628(RSP)
Ciclo di vita in Aula
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European Parliament resolution on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in Bolotnaya Square events


The European Parliament,


- having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe of 4 November 1950 and its protocols,


- having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia,


- having regard to the ‘Partnership for Modernisation’ initiated in 2010 in Rostov-on-Don and to the commitment made by the Russian leadership to the rule of law as a fundamental basis for the modernisation of Russia,


- having regard to the objective shared by the EU and Russia, set out in the joint statement issued on 31 May 2003 following the 11th EU-Russia Summit held in St Petersburg, of creating a common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and justice, a common space of cooperation in the field of external security and a common space of research and education, including cultural aspects (the ‘four common spaces’),


- having regard to the EU-Russia human rights consultations of 28 November 2013,


- having regard to the report of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on its periodic visit to the Russian Federation, published on 17 December 2013;


- having regard to the EU-Russia summit of 28 January 2014,


- having regard to the Statement by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative of 24 February 2014 on the sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events;


- having regard to the statement of the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Lukin, on public demonstrations in Moscow and the steps taken by the law enforcement agencies on 4 March 2014;


- having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,,


A. whereas a number of large-scale street protests took place in Moscow and other Russian cities between 2011 and 2013 in reaction to Vladimir Putin’s return to the Presidency and the result of the 2011 Parliamentary elections; whereas while the Moscow rally of 6 May 2012 on Bolotnaya square had been allowed, the Moscow city police had decided the day before to block off one of the entrances to the square, creating a bottleneck at the entrance to the square; whereas sporadic clashes have occurred between the protesters and the police with the latter responding with force, including using rubber truncheons; whereas hundreds of people were detained, including peaceful protesters trying to prevent police violence against innocent people;


B. whereas 650 activists were briefly detained and criminal proceedings were started against 28 individuals; whereas the authorities opened an investigation into the actions of the protestors, deeming them “mass riots,” which under Russian law are mass actions that involve “violence, pogroms, destruction of property, use of firearms, or armed resistance to the authorities.”; whereas authorities have alleged that the violence was planned and was part of a conspiracy to destabilize the country and overthrow the government;


C. whereas some demonstrators left Russia and others were cleared by a Presidential amnesty, eight demonstrators were found guilty on Monday 24 February 2014 by Moscow Zamoskvoretsky District court;


D. whereas the protestors received disproportionate sentences, with seven protesters receiving prison terms from two-and-a half to four years and the eight protester receiving a suspended sentence;


E. whereas new demonstrations took place across the country on Friday, 21 February and Monday, 24 February in support of the defendants; whereas in Moscow alone, the police detained without any justification about 200 people, including opposition leaders Alexey Navalny and Boris Nemtsov and Pussy Riot members; whereas the two politicians were condemned to 10 days in jail and whereas Alexey Navalny was transferred to house arrest prohibiting him from communicating with the outside world;


F. whereas, according to Russia’s Ombudsman for Human Rights, during demonstrations, the police was operating in such a way that peaceful demonstrators and passers-by were arrested;


G. whereas, according to Russia’s Memorial Human Rights Center, over 40 political prisoners are still in Russian prisons today;


H. whereas numerous accounts of ill-treatment and torture of prisoners by members of law enforcement agencies and police have been recorded in December 2013 by the Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee;


 I.   Whereas the Russian Authorities are expanding the programmes for mass surveillance, such as SORM, and whereas the Russian authorities are requiring the transfer of API data by air carriers and will soon require PNR data as well, for all flights with a Russia-nexus; whereas SORM also covers IT networks in Russia's neighbouring countries, including Ukraine; whereas these programmes, combined with anti-LGBT laws and laws restricting the freedom of NGOs, provide the Russian authorities with a very powerful tool to monitor and oppress opposition voices;



1. Deplores the disproportionate sentences in light of the offences the demonstrators are accused of; considers that the harsh sentences and these trials are politically motivated, fabricated, and that the trial has encountered numerous procedural shortcomings; Judge Natalia Nikishina has on many occasions, breached the principle of the adversarial system, taking the side of the prosecutor, instead of remaining impartial;


2. Calls on the Russian authorities to reconsider the sentences in the appeal process and to release the eight demonstrators, as well as Bolotnaya prisoner M. Kosenko, who was sentenced to a forced psychiatric treatment;


3. Notes the presidential amnesty granted to five demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya square events, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and two Pussy Riot members and calls on the President of the Russian Federation to extend the amnesty to all Russian political prisoners;


4. Calls on the Russian Federation, as a signatory of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to prevent ill-treatment of its prisoners; calls upon the Russian authorities to strengthen action to prevent ill-treatment by the police and members of other agencies and to ensure that police wear clearly visible identification numbers;


5. Calls on the Russian Federation to bring its surveillance programmes in line with the European Convention of Human Rights, in particular with Article 8 on the right to respect for private and family life, including correspondence, and Article 10 on the right to freedom of expression; points out that the transfer of passenger data is in principle not allowed under EU law; regrets that the Commission has not shown more determination in solving the situation; urges the Commission to finally provide a solution providing legal protection to EU citizens and carriers;


6. Calls on the Russian Federation to respect the principles of the rule of law and of the freedom of speech and assembly and its obligations as a full Member of the Council of Europe;


7. Regrets the continuous crackdown on citizens who voice their criticism against the regime and on the remaining independent media outlets, including TV Dozhd (Rain) and Ekho Moskvy radio;


8. 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 President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Council of Europe.