Chairwoman Condemns Sentencing of Mr Nemtsov and Arrests of Peaceful Demonstrators in Moscow and St Petersburg

“I have just learnt that Mr Nemtsov, along with others, was sentenced to serve a term in prison, apparently, “for resisting police”. There are reliable accounts that this charge is routinely, and, possibly, falsely used against peaceful protesters, along with the “violation of public order” charge. I call for the immediate release of all peaceful protesters of the Action 31.”[:]

Hundreds of people were arrested in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities for their right of freedom of assembly, guaranteed in the Article 31 of Constitution of the Russian Federation.

“With the new mayor of Moscow the authorities seemed to have been finally
prepared to show respect of the constitutional right of the citizens to peacefully gather and manifest their views. The arrest of hundreds of citizens on 31 December shows that this was an unfounded hope. This is a real backlash and we in the European Parliament must keep the pressure on our so-called strategic partner so it respect the internationally guaranteed rights which every citizen, Russia included, shall enjoy”, Heidi Hautala said.

“I am ever more disturbed by the fact that members and leaders of the democratic opposition in Russia seem to be persecuted and charged with ‘violation of public order’. I doubt that Boris Nemtsov, for example, as a former deputy Prime Minister, would not know how to behave in public. While I am writing this, Mr Nemtsov is still being kept in police custody, having failed to ‘coordinate’ the demonstration with the authorities. Even they are not claiming that the demonstrators of 31 December would have behaved violently”, she added.

“The European Union was very quick to react strongly against police violence towards demonstrators in Belarus, including the detention of most presidential candidates, following the presidential elections of 19 December. I want to remind the EU representatives and colleagues of the need to avoid a potential double standard in the attitude towards the events in Belarus and Russia.

The EU must keep condemning the police practices in Russia, as vigorously as it does in the case of Belarus. And it is time that the EU opens contacts with and shows solidarity towards the Russian democratic opposition it, just as it does towards the opposition of Belarus”, Hautala demanded.