OSCE PA President Kauma deplores targeting of civil society groups in Russia

COPENHAGEN, 22 August 2023 – Russian authorities have taken the alarming step of dissolving Moscow’s Sakharov Centre and arresting the head of the leading independent election-monitoring organization in Russia, moves that OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Pia Kauma (Finland) denounced today as a major blow to democratic processes. She called for the release of Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of the Golos election watchdog, and for ceasing the legal harassment of the Sakharov Centre, a widely respected civil society organization.

“These assaults on civil society in Russia are the latest in a long line of repressive measures that Moscow has taken to clamp down on democratic opposition and independent human rights monitoring,” President Kauma said. “Following the liquidation of International Memorial and the Moscow Helsinki Group, the targeting of Golos and the Sakharov Centre is a sad reminder of the lengths that Russian authorities will go to in silencing independent voices.”

She recalled that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has long benefited from the expertise of Golos, in particular, in providing clear analysis and background of the Russian electoral system during election observation missions.

“Our election observers always meet with Golos representatives to hear the objective truth about what is happening in Russia,” Kauma said. “We hope to be able to continue this co-operation going forward.”

The Russian Ministry of Justice designated Golos a “foreign agent” in 2021 and the Sakharov Centre in 2014. Under the terms of the “foreign agents” law, once designated, organizations are prohibited from a range of activities, including organizing public assemblies, and must comply with stringent legal requirements even if they challenge the designation in court.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, in its 2015 Annual Session Declaration, criticized Russian attempts to stigmatize and discredit civil society groups by labelling them “foreign agents,” and has previously expressed concerns about the application of the foreign agents law. (See, for example, here, here, here and here.)



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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