Belarusian NGOs call on Russian authorities to stop harassment of human rights defenders
Representatives of Belarusian NGOs issued a joint statement on the recent facts of persecution of NGOs and human rights defenders in the Russian Federation.
In a special statement, the leaders of the Belarusian civil society call on the authorities of the neighboring country to stop a campaign of harassment of Russian NGOs, and not to learn from the experience of the Belarusian authorities in the destruction of the country’s civil society, which eventually resulted to increased authoritarianism. The petitioners tried to refer the statement to the Russian Embassy, but its employees refused to accept the letter, citing the absence of such a procedure. As a result, the document was sent by mail, the website of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs reports.
The statement expresses concern about the increased pressure by the authorities of the Russian Federation towards the country’s civil society organizations. Of particular concern to the representatives of Belarusian NGOs is the fact that the campaign of prosecutor's checks affected a number of non-profit organizations that efficiently and productively cooperate with Belarusian civil society.
“There is a danger that the experience of the destruction of the institutional framework of civil society in Belarus (as well as in Central Asia) in order to build an authoritarian society, now serves as a model for the development of the authoritarian regime in Russia. We consider it unacceptable to import the technologies of suppressing civil society to non-democratic regimes of the Commonwealth of Independent States,” says the document.
Pressure and searches in the offices of human rights and other non-governmental organizations, the introduction by the Russian authorities of the odious law on “foreign agents” to discredit human rights defenders in the media is especially unacceptable in light of the recent resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 21 March, says the statement.
The resolution called for UN member states to prevent the discriminatory application of restrictions on potential funding sources that support the work of human rights defenders, other than those usually provided in the case of any other activities not related to human rights, and that no law should contain provisions on the criminalization or delegitimization of human rights activities on the basis of geographical origin of funds.
The statement was signed by Siarhei Matskevich (Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs of Belarus), Alena Tankachova and Volha Smalianka (Legal Transformation Center), Zhanna Litvina (Belarusian Association of Journalists), Aleh Hulak (Belarusian Helsinki Committee), Valiantsin Stefanovich (Human Rights Center "Viasna") Tatsiana Reviaka (Belarusian Human Rights House), Inna Kulei (Committee "Solidarity"), Aliaksandr Milinkevich (Movement "For Freedom"), Uladzislau Vialichka (International Consortium "Euro-Belarus"), Miraslau Kobasa (Leo Sapieha Foundation), Raisa Mikhailouskaya ( Centre for Human Rights).