An appeal to the House of Representatives of the Dutch Parliament

We, citizens of Russia living in the Netherlands and Dutch citizens, appeal to the deputies of the House of Representatives with a request to give an unambiguous assessment of the human rights situation in Russia, which has deteriorated over the last year. Large-scale fraud on the latest parliamentary elections, recent laws passed by illegitimate State Duma (Russian parliament) that violate the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens, systematic abuse of law by corrupted officials and escalating political repressions – all of this clearly shows that the political system in Russia has transformed into a dictatorship. To our regret, we cannot influence this situation in a legal and democratic way. We expect this problem will attract more attention from the international community, and an open debate is needed in order to find a correct approach.

In this appeal, we kindly request you to urge the authorities of Russian Federation to stop the prosecution of activists who participated in the ‘March of Millions’ on 6 May 2012 and a prominent politician Aleksei Navalny.

According to reliable independent reports, the demonstration on 6 May, the day before Putin’s inauguration, was forcibly disrupted at Bolotnaya Square by riot police, who subjected participants to disproportionate force and arbitrary violence; whereas reports by the Presidential Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Ombudsman and an independent investigative commission comprising senior public figures blamed both the Russian authorities and police for the violence. Charges were brought against 27 people, selected at random by the police from tens of thousands participants of the manifestation, 12 of them taken to prison. All their “guilt” is that they tried to realize their constitutional right on taking part in a demonstration and protect their compatriots from violence of the police. Obviously, this is a show trial fabricated against the opposition activists and aimed to intimidate their supporters.

Aleksei Navalny, a lawyer and political activist, is currently on trial in Russia on charges which, he claims, represent a politically motivated attempt to punish him as one of the most prominent opponents of the government. Navalny has consistently exposed massive corruption within the highest levels of the Russian state apparatus. The trial is based on testimony of one person who has personal reasons to accuse Navalny; clearly, this is a politically-motivated and absurd case. Navalny is charged with embezzling $500,000 from a state-controlled timber company in Kirov while working as an adviser to the regional governor in 2009. Prosecutors initially dismissed the case due to the lack of evidence, but federal officials revived it after the street protests in Moscow, where Navalny played an important role. Last week, the prosecutor has demanded that Navalny be convicted on embezzlement charges and sentenced to six years in prison.
 
These two cases and many other problems are mentioned in the motion for a European Parliament resolution on the rule of law in Russia (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=P7-RC-2013-0269&language=EN), which was presented to European Parliament on June 12, 2013. Despite the concern of NGO’s and many European organizations about the situation in Russia, it does not receive enough support at the government level in our opinion. We understand that Russian Federation is one of the largest trade partners of the Netherlands, and raising the human rights issue may cause hostile reaction from the Russian officials. However, we believe that EU member states can influence this situation by coordinated action. We hope the House of Representatives and the Dutch government will support European initiatives on urging the Russian authorities to respect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. As recent history shows, tolerance to dictatorial regimes may lead to serious problems in the future and change the political climate in the whole Europe.

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