Right of Reply to the Russian Federation
As delivered by Ambassador Michael Carpenter
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
February 2, 2023
We need to explain to the Russian representative, but also put it on the record so that this does not go uncommented, that legislating violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms does not in some way make those violations less of a contravention of our core commitments under the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. So when the Russian representative, for example, says that some of the NGOs that have been outlawed in Russia have a right of appeal in the Russian judicial system, he is neglecting to inform us that courts in Russia are essentially Potemkin institutions that seek to eliminate all forms of independent media and indeed independent civil society, and therefore appealing to such courts, in fact, gives no comfort to any independent organization that in fact seeks to exercise its fundamental freedoms.
So, Sir, what you’re doing is you are confusing form and substance. Having courts which are subservient to the dictatorship, does not provide a judicial form of remedy when rights are violated. Having the so-called systemic opposition, does not in fact provide a legitimate avenue for opposition voices to channel their expression into the political system. Having elections where ballots are cast, but in fact voices are not heard and counted freely and fairly across the country, does not make for a democracy. So don’t confuse form and substance and don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here, because I think we all understand perfectly well what you’re doing. And the points made by not just some of the previous interventions that you cited, but all of them, were to point out that fundamentally the Russian Federation today is restricting in both form and substance the fundamental rights of Russian citizens, which, by the way, are indeed enshrined in your own constitution, and yet you violate that constitution each and every day. That is the point that we are trying to make.