Human Rights Visit to Russia

Heidi Hautala, Chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights and MEP will visit Russia on 12.-15. December 2009 to take part in an international conference ‘Sakharov’s Ideas Today’ in Moscow on 14-15th of December 2009. [:]The event is organised by the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center under the auspices of the Council of Europe and the Commissioner for Human Rights Mr.Thomas Hammarberg. The conference will address the global agenda in promoting peace, progress and human rights. In the conference Chairwoman Hautala will address current human rights issues in Russia.Oleg Orlov and Sergei Kovalev, winners of the European Parliament’s 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, will also take part to the conference. The Sakharov Prize will be awarded in 16 December 2009 to Russian civil rights defense organization Memorial, and its three representatives Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, as well as to all other human rights defenders in Russia.

Chairwoman Hautala has requested to visit Aleksey Nikiforov and Alexey Sokolov, who are unlawfully detained in prison in Ekaterinburg. Aleksey Nikiforov is a human rights defender and opposition activist, who is the first to have been, on 14 September 2009, sentenced to one year in prison purely on the grounds of “extremism” due to his political activities. Alexey Sokolov is a renowned Russian human rights defender and has been in pre-trial detention on the grounds of suspicion of robbery since 13 May 2009. Serious doubt remains that his detention is motivated by his activities in the human rights field.

Chairwoman Hautala has been appointed as a rapporteur by the Foreign Affairs Committee on protective measures for human rights defenders in third countries. During the visit Chairwoman Hautala intends to meet with civil society representatives and human rights defenders in Moscow and elsewhere to discuss the safety measures for human rights defenders and freedom of speech in Russia today.