The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) held a hearing on “Democracy and Human Rights Abuses in Russia: No End in Sight” on April 26. The hearing examined the ominous state of human rights and democracy in Russia.

Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., a vice-chair of “Open Russia”*, opposition politician, human rights activist and journalist spoke as one of the main witnesses. Kara-Murza survived two poisoning attempts during past two years, allegedly related to his political activity. Previously, at the end of March 2017, the U.S. Senate heard Kara-Murza’s testimony on the similar topic.

“In terms of mortality rate among people who have crossed the Kremlin path … it suddenly has been abnormally high,” – Kara-Murza pointed out. He highlighted, that 30 people – activists, politicians, journalists – were killed out of political reasons during the 17-year period that Vladimir Putin holds the power.

Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Division of CSCE spoke as the other witness. She mentioned that the Russian government tries to “organize the public mood in a very poisonous way” using a wide range of “tools … to silence independent critics, to tighten control over free expressions, over free assembly, over free association, over NGOs … Kremlin controls broadcasters and has been portraying western democracies as working to destabilize Russia and the rest of the world,” – Denber said.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee pointed out, that “opposition activists … are routinely assaulted or even murdered, giving rise to a new term: “Sudden Kremlin Death Syndrome.” She also noted, that “the Kremlin’s crackdown on civil society, media, and the Internet took a more sinister turn in 2015 as the government further intensified harassment and persecution of independent critics.”

At the end of the hearings, Kara-Murza stated that political activists don’t have a law to protect them in Russia.

The hearings are available on 00:46:00 – 02:25:00 minutes of the CSCE official recording. Statements given on hearings are available on the CSCE website.

* “Open Russia” is an initiative advocating democracy and human rights in Russia, founded by a former oligarch, former political prisoner of 10 years and democracy activist in exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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