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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

Werner Schulz, Barbara Lochbihler, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Ulrike Lunacek, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

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

Postup : 2014/2628(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in Bolotnaya Square events


The European Parliament,


-          having regard to its previous reports and resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolution on the rule of law in Russia of 13 June 2013,


-          having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 24 February 2014 on the sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events,


-          having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,


A.  whereas the Russian Federation as a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights; whereas due to several serious violations of the rule of law and the adoption of restrictive laws during the past months there are increasing concerns with regards to Russia's compliance with international and national obligations,

B.  whereas the strategic partnership with Russia is based on a mutual commitment to shared universal values including pluralist democracy, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, respect for human dignity and equality,

C.  whereas several trials and judicial proceedings over the last years have cast doubt on the independence and the impartiality of the judicial institutions of the Russian Federation,

D.  whereas on 6 May 2012, on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration, several dozens of the estimated tens of thousands of peaceful protesters clashed sporadically with police leading to minor injuries at the Bolotnaya Square,

E.  whereas numerous Russian and international human rights organisations reported that disproportionate measures and aggressive and spontaneous actions by the security forces as well as excessive use of violence led to outbreak of violence followed by arbitrary arrests of the protesters,

F.  whereas the ombudsman on Human Rights of the Russian Federation confirmed in its assessment that accusations on mass riots were ungrounded,

G.  whereas on 24 February 2014, a Russian court handed down a guilty verdict against eight of those demonstrators ranging from a suspended sentence to four years imprisonment, following three more severe prison sentences in 2013 as well as the forced psychiatric treatment of the activist Mikhael Kosenko,

H.       whereas between 21 and 24 February more than 600 people peacefully gathering were detained by the police in Moscow and about 60 in St. Petersburg for attempts to hold unauthorised actions to protests against the verdict,

I. whereas a Moscow court sentenced several of these activists, including among others Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov, to jail sentences of up to 13 days for disobeying police during an unsanctioned rally; whereas Alexei Navalny on 28 February was put under house arrest for violating travel restrictions imposed on him and committing an administrative offence,

J.         whereas the human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated drastically in the last years and the Russian authorities have adopted a series of laws which contain ambiguous provisions and could be used to further restrict opposition and civil society actors and hinder freedom of expression and assembly; whereas this crackdown has included actions such as police raids, confiscation of property, administrative fines and other measures aimed at preventing and dissuading civil society organisations from carrying out their work,

1.       Expresses its deep concern at the case of the demonstrators in Bolotnaya Square that was deeply flawed from the start with politically motivated charges and disproportionate verdicts and expects these verdicts to be reviewed in appeal;

2. Believes that the disproportionate prosecution of the demonstrators is aimed at intimidating Russian democracy and human rights activists discouraging people to take part in public life;

3. Takes the view that the situation in Russia is symptomatic of a systemic problem with regard to the rule of law and human rights, characterised, inter alia, by a repressive political climate, curtailment of fundamental liberties and the gradual erosion of independent civil society;

4. Calls on the Russian government to take concrete steps to address this deterioration, in particular by ceasing the campaign of harassment against civil society organisations and activists; calls on the Russian executive and legislature to reconsider and eventually repeal recently adopted legislative acts and measures that conflict with the country's stated commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms as a member of the Council of Europe and take into account the proposals of its Human Rights ombudsman as well as the Human Rights council to the President of the Russian Federation;

5.       Urges Russia to strengthen the rule of law by ensuring fair and impartial trials, the inviolability and independence of the judiciary, independent oversight of public prosecutors' activities and a commitment to due process including meaningful appellate rights; underlines that verdicts such as those on Bolotnaya demonstrators call into question the state of the rule of law and negatively impact on the exercise of freedom of expression and assembly in Russia;

6. Calls on the High Representative and the European External Action Service to ensure that the cases of all persons prosecuted for political reasons are raised in EU-Russia human rights consultations, and that Russia's representatives in these consultations are formally requested to respond in each case;

7.       Calls on EU Member states to grant immediate access and political asylum to all politically motivated harassed and persecuted Russian activists

8.       Calls on the Presidents of the Council and Commission, as well as the VP/HR to continue to closely follow these cases and to raise these issues in different formats and meetings with Russia and to report back to the Parliament on the exchanges with the Russian authorities;

9. Urges the Council to articulate a unified policy towards Russia that commits the 27 EU Member States and EU institutions to a strong and principled common message on the role of human rights in the EU-Russia relationship and the need to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, assembly, and association in Russia; calls for this common message to be articulated in EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions;

10. Urges the High Representative and the European External Action Service to ensure that the Union seeks every opportunity, within the boundaries of Russian domestic law, to continue to engage with and support Russian civil society organisations including those working to promote the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

11.      Urges with regard to the ongoing programming phase of the EU financial instruments the EU Commission and EEAS to increase its financial assistance to the Russian Civil Society through EIDHR and CSO/LA funds and to include the EU Russia Civil Society Forum in the Partnership Instrument to ensure sustainable and credible long time support;

12.      Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the VP/HR, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.