On Ensuring the Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly in Russia

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures while speaking in a court room in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. (AP photo)

On Ensuring the Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly in Russia

As delivered by Acting Chief of Mission Michele Siders
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
October 5, 2017

The United States joins the European Union and other participating States in expressing deep concern about the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and his subsequent sentencing to twenty days’ detention on dubious charges of violating laws on public demonstrations.

This week we also mark with sadness the anniversary of the killing of journalist, writer, and human rights defender Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered on October 7, 2006. Like many other journalists over the past two decades, including those reporting on the North Caucasus, Ms. Politkovskaya was killed in retaliation for her efforts to uncover corruption, abuse, and violations of human rights.

We remain concerned about shrinking space for independent media, civil society, and the political opposition in Russia. We urge the government to condemn publicly any attacks or threats of violence against members of civil society, journalists, or the political opposition, and to hold the perpetrators and masterminds of such violence accountable. As Russia prepares for a presidential election in March next year, the United States calls on the government to safeguard the freedom of peaceful assembly and to protect those who express dissenting views, consistent with OSCE commitments, international law, and the rights enshrined in Russia’s own constitution.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.