Sunday, December 16, 2018

Report on persecution religious minorities in Russia

The principle of religious freedom enshrined in the Russian Constitution, as well as in other laws passed in the beginning of the 1990’s in the wake of democratic changes in Russia, is currently seriously endangered. The effect of this principle has been largely offset by numerous modifications of Russian legislation in recent years......

Reaction on this report's presentation in the US Congress from Department of State:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Spies Without Borders – How the FSB Infiltrated the International Visa System

One of the unanswered questions lingering after Bellingcat’s unmasking of the identities of suspects in the botched-up poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal, is how two (or, likely, more) undercover GRU officers were able to obtain visas to travel to the UK. Securing a visa to the UK – as to most of EU destinations – is not a trivial procedure. A single-entry visitor visa is relatively straightforward to procure – it requires either an invitation from a UK resident or business, or a pre-arranged tourist trip.
To get a long-term, multi-entry visa – the kind the two GRU officers are reported to have used – a Russian applicant must go through many more hoops. The visa-seeker must make a convincing case for their need for multiple trips and present evidence for both their steady links to their home country, and their financial capability to sustain themselves in the UK over an extended period. The UK consular section makes a concerted effort to validate the data provided by applicants, and is known to reject applicants – even such with a prior multi-entry visa – once they discover an inconsistency in the “back story” presented by a would-be visitor. The following rejection letter sent to an applicant who had a prior six-month multiple visa to the UK, exemplifies the “paranoid” attitude applied by the UK consular service, including its focus on provenance of claimed income...........................


On November 21, the election of a new President of Interpol will take place. The leading candidate for this post is the representative of the Russian Federation, Major General of the Russian Police Alexander Prokopchuk.
The Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum expresses its categorical protest against the election of this candidate to the post of head of Interpol. Such an influential organization as Interpol cannot be led by a representative and functionary of an unfree nation that violates the rights and freedoms of its own citizens, violates its international obligations, annexes the territories of other states, and is currently the protagonist of several wars of aggression.
It is well-established that Russia has abused Interpol as a tool to persecute abroad the political opponents of the ruling Russian regime who have been forced to emigrate. Critics and other targets of the Putin regime residing outside of Russia have repeatedly been victimized by Interpol mechanisms such as Red Notices and “diffusion” notices, as a result of which they were detained and put through lengthy legal procedures before they managed to convince Interpol of the political nature of their persecution—often requiring political intervention on their behalf. A few examples: members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum Leonid Nevzlin and Ilya Ponomarev, founder and CEO of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund William Browder, employee of the Anti-Corruption Foundation Nikita Kulachenkov, anti-fascist Peter Silaev, Voina activist Oleg Vorotnikov, Izhevsk journalist and activist Andrei Nekrasov, Ulyanovsk blogger Sergey Kryukov, former head of the Tutaevsky municipal district of the Yaroslavl region Jan Andreev. This list could be continued.
The election of the official representative of the Russian Federation to the leading position of Interpol will reinforce the negative trends in the work of the international police. In the hands of an operative of the Russian police, Interpol can become a dangerous weapon in the Kremlin’s deadly campaign against representatives of the Russian opposition abroad and other opponents of Putin’s regime outside of Russia.
Of special concern is that Interpol can be used against citizens of other states who find themselves in the territories annexed by the Russian Federation. For example, pro-Ukrainian activists who lived or are now living in the territory of the illegally-annexed Crimea, and who were subjected to illegal persecution by the Russian occupation authorities, could become victims of international prosecution. Would Interpol target these people on Russian request? It is difficult to imagine otherwise should a Russian official becomes the head of Interpol.
The candidate for the post of the head of Interpol also raises questions. Alexander Prokopchuk is a major general of the Russian police, an organization known for its corruption and persecution of representatives of the Russian opposition. Prokopchuk is directly subordinate to President Vladimir Putin and, of course, is an obedient tool in his hands. In addition, over the past few years, Prokopchuk headed the Russian National Interpol Bureau. It was during his tenure at this post that cases of unlawful use of Interpol mechanisms for targeting opponents of the Putin regime outside Russia became more frequent. There is no doubt that should he become the head of Interpol, this Russian official will only intensify the persecution of opponents of the Russian authorities.
The Russian Federation is not a democratic, legal state. There is no independent judiciary, no concept of fair application of justice. A dictatorial regime has been formed inside Russia and is pursuing its opponents both inside the country and abroad. Political repression, the murder of political opponents, the use of chemical weapons on the territory of other states, interference in the internal political processes in Western countries and other hybrid operations are just a few of the illicit methods used by the Putin regime against its enemies. To entrust a representative of this regime with such an important function as the leadership of the international police is absolutely intolerable.
The Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum appeals to the members of the General Assembly of Interpol to abandon any support for the representative of Russia for the post of head of Interpol.
Members of the Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum:
  • Vladimir Ashurkov — Co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation
  • Marat Gelman — Russian art collector, gallery owner, publicist
  • Andrei Illarionov — CATO senior fellow, economist
  • Garry Kasparov — Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation
  • Daniil Konstantinov — Chairman of the Russian European Organization, former political prisoner
  • Leonid Nevzlin — Entrepreneur, public policy advocate
  • Ilya Ponomarev — Former MP of the Russian State Duma
  • Andrei Sidelnikov — Leader of the international Speak Up! movement
  • Ivan Tyutrin — Co-founder of the Free Russia Forum
  • Mark Feygin — Human rights lawyer, political activist
  • Evgenia Chirikova — Environmental activist

Friday, October 7, 2016

I agree completely

Vladimir Putin’s Outlaw State


President Vladimir Putin is fast turning Russia into an outlaw nation. As one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, his country shares a special responsibility to uphold international law. Yet, his behavior in Ukraine and Syria violates not only the rules intended to promote peace instead of conflict, but also common human decency. This bitter truth was driven home twice on Wednesday. An investigative team led by the Netherlands concluded that the surface-to-air missile system that shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 on board, was sent from Russia to Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night.

Meanwhile, in Syria, Russian and Syrian warplanes knocked out two hospitals in the rebel-held sector of Aleppo as part of an assault that threatens the lives of 250,000 more people in a war that has already claimed some 500,000 Syrian lives. Russia has tried hard to pin the blame for the airline crash on Ukraine. But the new report, produced by prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, confirms earlier findings. It uses strict standards of evidence and meticulously documents not only the deployment of the Russian missile system that caused the disaster but also Moscow’s continuing cover-up.......

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine

In late February 2014, Russia began to send troops and military equipment into Ukraine following the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution and Euromaidan movement.[59][60][61][62] Starting with the 2014 Crimean crisis, soldiers of ambiguous affiliation began to take control of strategic positions and infrastructure within the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which Russia then annexed.[63][64] Putin initially denied Russian troops interfered but then admitted in April that Russian troops had been active in Crimea and said this had laid the ground for the Crimean status referendum.......

Crimea Is Still Ukraine

The Russian annexation has robbed Ukrainian citizens on the peninsula of the right to live in their own state. By PETRO POROSHENKO March 19, 2015 4:40 p.m. ET One year ago, the Ukrainian territory of Crimea was illegally annexed by our neighbor and partner at the time, the Russian Federation. One year ago, as Russian special forces sacked the regional parliament and silenced dissenting voices, a farce referendum was held to position Moscow’s land grab behind a facade of legitimacy. I myself witnessed the illegal and shameful occupation, and never will I forget or excuse it. When I visited the Crimean capital of Simferopol to help negotiate a settlement one year ago, I saw many “little green men,” who were in fact heavily armed professional soldiers. Although they were masked and disguised, with their uniforms and markings altered, it was clear that every command for the occupation had come from one source: the Kremlin......