European Parliament Condemns Persecution of Oleg Orlov and Calls for Respect for Human Rights in North Caucasus

 European Parliament adopted today a resolution on the situation of human rights in the North Caucasus and the criminal prosecution against Oleg Orlov. [:]The resolution urges Russia to put a stop to the violence, abductions, persecution and impunity in North Caucasus and condemns the opening of a criminal investigation against Oleg Orlov.

Charges against Mr Oleg Orlov, Chairman of Human Rights Centre Memorial, were brought on 20th of October 2009 on grounds of Article 129 (3) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Mr Orlov publicised a statement on July 15, 2009 in which in which he indicated he believed Mr. Kadyrov was responsible for Ms. Natalia Estemirova’s murder, in July 2009.



Chairwoman Hautala opened the debate at the European Parliament stating “This resolution on the situation in the North Caucasus and in particular the case of Oleg Orlov is one of the most deserving resolutions this house has adopted” and continued: The tragedy reigning in the North Caucasus has only deepened in recent years with pervasive human rights violations still affecting the daily lives of the communities in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

The violence is far from over. Only on Tuesday this week, at least 6 people were killed in an attack on Chechnya’s parliament building in Grozny. At least 17 people were injured, most of them civilians. On 9 September, 17 people were killed and many others wounded in a bombing in Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia.

The tragedies of the past are neither accounted for. The families of the victims in Beslan still don’t know what exactly happened to their children and loved ones, how they died or where their bodies are.
Not only has the vicious circle of violence and reigning impunity left these communities distraught and paralyzed, the failure to tackle the situation has led the violence to spread beyond the borders of North Caucasian republics.

While Muscovites have felt the trauma of terrorism, the Chechen refugees in Europe fear persecution, even murder. It is all the more alarming that there is still no information of the fates of those four men who disappeared on 28 December 2009 in St. Petersburg, and of those five people who have been missing since 24. September, when they went to the Historic mosque in Moscow.

There comes a point when this must stop. The winner of the 2009 Sakharov prize, Mr Orlov, being under criminal charges could be the point when the Europe finally says this is enough.

EU should now seek to cooperate with the Council of Europe on the Report of Dick Marty on Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus region and the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which was supported by the Russian Federation.

Most pertinent opportunity to reflect our policy will, however, come when the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Russia will be negotiated. EU should take a serious moment to think on what conditions such agreement could be signed.