Civil protest in Moscow on July 26th

Past weekend, almost 1.400 civilians were detained and overall, heavily repressed by authorities in Moscow, Russia. A violent police crackdown was conducted to protests against the banning of several opposition political parties running for the September Moscow City Council elections. 

The amount of civilians detained has not been seen before during the past decade in Russia. Even though the majority has been released, the acts of repression and police brutality against civilians, violate the right of freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This is a clear example of deterioration in terms of civil and political rights validity in Russia and as well an example of a democratic crisis; the values of such system are being violated by the regime. 

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arbitrary arrested by authorities and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Moscow Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, stated that Navalny is a “security threat” because of planning the protest without the authorization of the state. 

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny

The siege against the opposition is recurring practice of the Russian Government, so we cannot forget the prisoner of conscience Oleg Sentsov (Sakharov prize 2018 by EU Parliament) who was arbitrary arrested on May 14th, 2014 and is currently serving prison time (20-year sentence) for the sole purpose peacefully resisting the Russian occupation of Crimea. He is currently living inhumane conditions in a prison in Siberia.   

Authorities state that the number of signatures for opposition candidates to run for elections did not passed the stipulated 5.000, but the amount of protestors seen during the past week and the previous one show bigger numbers. 

As stated by Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition leader, “each signature on the petition means volunteering one’s personal information for the government’s database of opposition supporters”. It is clearly seen that the average civilian who opposes the government fears of being labelled as opposition to the state. One of the many signals of an authoritarian, repressive state. 

Authoritarian regimes such as Vladimir Putin´s, poses a threat to transparent elections in his country. As well, there is a clear violation to human rights when using disproportionate police brutality against civilians exercising freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly, both stipulated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The Human Rights Institute for Peace and Freedom urges the international community including the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Michelle Bachelet, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentionof the United Nations, to address this case and condemn the acts of repression conducted by the Putin Regime. To immediately liberate the remining detained protestors and finally, continue pressuring the Putin Regime for the release of Oleg Sentsov, who is an innocent man and his human rights are being constantly violated.