The story of Sergei Magnitsky’s death on 16 November 2009 became for many in the west, an allegory of Vladimir Putin’s Russia
– brutal, oppressive and corrupt.
The 37-year-old accountant was found dead, his body bearing bruises, in a Moscow prison cell having been detained for nearly
a year over accusations of tax evasion. His real crime, say supporters, was exposing a $230 million theft from the Russian
treasury by officials linked to a criminal gang.” (Financial Times, June 12, 2016)
The story has been vehemently challenged by Russian authorities, in particular in relation to prospects of Western countries
imposing targeted sanctions. In 2012, the US Congress adopted the Magnitsky Act despite strong reactions from the Russian
government. The act bans entry into the US and freeze assets of individuals involved in the crimes against Magnitsky as well
as other perpetrators of gross violations of human rights against whistle-blowers and human rights defenders. Currently there
are 44 names on the public part of the US Magnitsky list.
On 8 December 2016, the US Congress passed an expanded version of the Magnitsky Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability
Act. Based on this act, the US may impose sanctions on corrupt or human rights violating officials from any country where
they commit such crimes with impunity. Two European countries, Estonia and the UK, have recently enacted similar legislation.
Canada and Lithuania may be the next countries to enact similar measures.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), of the OSCE, and the European Parliament and some national parliaments
have asked for Magnitsky sanctions to be established by European countries.
In addition to targeted sanctions, legal actions and investigations are under way in a range of countries in connection with
laundering of proceeds from the tax fraud that Magnitsky exposed. In May 2017, a settlement worth $6 million was reached in the US between Prevezon Holding and the US state in relation to money laundering.
Many human rights organizations see these developments as important progress for the international fight against impunity
for human rights violations. They argue that Magnitsky sanctions – although limited in scope – ensures that there will not
be total impunity for serious crimes committed to silence human rights defenders or whistle-blowers.
There are, however, also critical voices against Magnitsky sanctions. Russian state representatives, including President Vladimir
Putin, have denied any wrongdoing on the part of Russian officials in the Magnitsky case. They underline that it is not up
toforeigncountries to judge on its domestic human rights issues. A 2016 Norwegian documentary,the Magnitsky Act: Behind the
Scenesby Andrej Nekrasov, a Russian-born director, criticised the US legislation, claiming it was based on a falsified story
of Magnitsky being killed as a whistle-blower.
On this background, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee will host an international Hearing to shed light on the Magnitsky case, present similar cases from other countries, as well as arguments and viewpoints on global
Magnitsky sanctions as a new way for democratic countries to fight human rights abuses in corrupt and authoritarian states.
Magnitsky case definition
Global Magnitsky human rights sanctions prohibit entry and freeze assets of officials who commit gross violations of human
rights with impunity; the victims beinghuman rights defendersorwhistle-blowers. The abuses are often intended to silence the
victims, in order to conceal corruption, fraud or other economic criminality.
Gross violations of human rights include:
Torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Prolonged detention without charge or trial
Involuntary disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those
Obvious violation of the right to life, liberty or security of person
NOAS, NHC and FRI wish to invite you to an open seminar in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, the investigative journalist of Novaya
Gazeta, who would have been 59 years old on 30 August had she not been brutally murdered for her work in 2006. Her brave work
to expose human rights abuse in Chechnya and North Caucasus has inspired many journalists in Russia, and the Norwegian Helsinki
Committee commemorates her legacy every year with a relevant seminar.
Ahead of the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Amnesty International, Article
19, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Center “Memorial” and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have written to the members of
the Assembly to urge them to participate in the Plenary debate on the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
on “Human Rights in the North Caucasus” and to support the adoption of the very important resolution and recommendations raised
by the report.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civic Assistance Committee in Moscow have today sent a letter to the presidents of
FIFA and UEFA, urging them to initiate investigation into allegations of the use of North Korean slave labour during the construction
of the football stadium Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg. While there are still numerous violations of human rights with respect
to workers and migrants in Russia, it is vital that well-known and respected international bodies such as FIFA, do not become
complicit in such practices, and act upon the human rights commitments underlined in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Sustainability
Strategy and FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future.
This last weekend, 25. – 26. March, peaceful protest actions took place across Russia, Belarus and in Kyrgyzstan, which were
met with heavy police forces, mass arrests and violence from the authorities. Although they did not seem to have been coordinated
in any way, the protests have in common that they were supported by citizens fed up with corruption and oppression. Governments
of the three countries seem to know only one way of reacting: Interdiction, violence and detentions. Still, citizens for the
first time in a very long time, defied fears and participated. The participation across Russia, not limited to big cities,
had not been seen for years.
On occasion of the International Women’s Day the Norwegian Helsinki Committee issued a statement calling on the government
of Uzbekistan to immediately and unconditionally free five woman political prisoners. These women languish in prison in for
no other reason than their legitimate and peaceful activities, and the charges against them are trumped-up and must be dropped,
the NHC said.
Journalists in North West Russia and Norwegian journalists across the border experience some of the same challenges in their
daily work. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the journalist association Barents Press are pleased that we are able to
continue our cooperation and organise sessions where Norwegian and Russian journalists meet to exchange experiences and discuss
human rights in journalism.
NHC congratulates the laureates of the Fritt Ord/ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» which were awarded in a ceremony in Tbilisi
last week. Imprisoned journalist Seymur Hazi from Azerbaijan and the Ukrainian TV program Nashi Groshi were both nominated
by NHC. The third laureate is the prominent Russian journalist Elena Milashina.
Jury member Martin Paulsen highlighted three virtues in his speech at the ceremony: "When it comes to your work, and the reasons
why we chose you for this honour, I would like to emphasise the importance of three concepts: COURAGE, SOLIDARITY and COMPETENCE."
NHCs Enver Djuliman is currently in Odessa, Ukraine, where Russian and Ukrainian youth are together for dialogues for reconciliation
between Russian and Ukrainian youth. Symbolically, the participants planted trees of peace.
Yesterday the Norwegian Helsinki Committee arranged our annual Anna Politkovskaya-seminar, to honour our dear friend and colleague
who was brutally murdered just outside her apartment in Moscow ten years ago today.
“The low turnout at 47.8% in the Duma elections on 18 September may be seen as an expression by Russians of discontent with
the Government and the ruling United Russia party. There may also be widespread lack of trust in the electoral process among
many Russians”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). – “Even if these elections
represented progress in transparency and the Central Election Commission (CEC) played a professional role in reacting to some
of the reported irregularities, a range of serious problems remain.”
In a statement published today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders, condemn the recent sentencing of Mr. Zhalaudi Geriev, a journalist of the Russian independent news portal Caucasian
Knot on September 5, 2016 and demand his unconditional release. We are deeply concerned about a string of attacks against
the freedom of expression in the region, which for years has been marred by violence and threaths agains journalists.
On 17 September 2016 Russia organizes elections to the 450 seats of the Federal Duma. Unfortunately, restrictions on election
observation and candidate registration are already being put in place. Despite the bleak picture normally presented regarding
elections in Russia, there exist however many independent voices in politics, academia and civil society that speak out for
democratic values and procedures. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee invited some of them to Oslo to debate new perspectives
on Russia’s elections.
The Boris Nemtsov Foundation presents an annual award to a person who is particularly committed to fighting for the freedom
of expression and helping those who are persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds in Russia. The first prize is
given to the opposition politician Lev Shlosberg for his fight for democratic values in the Russian Federation.
Global Magnitsky Sanctions – Effective tool to address gross violations of human rights against human rights defenders and
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), a long term partner of the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), has the pleasure of inviting
you to a side event on Global Magnitsky Sanctions at the OFF 2016. The event is arranged in co-operation with the Justice
for Sergei Magnitsky Campaign, with the participation of its leader, Bill Browder.
On 16 March, another attack on the human rights organisation Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT) took place in Chechnya.
The head of the organization, Igor Kalyapin, was attacked outside the Grozny City hotel and forced to leave the republic.
On 9 March, unknown assailants attacked a minibus with lawyers and human rights activists from the Joint Mobile Group and
international journalists on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. Among those attacked were a Norwegian and a Swedish
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Rafto Foundation have sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende in
connection with the court liquidation of the human rights organization Agora last week.
Agora, a 2014 Rafto Prize laureate and a member of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council became the first nongovernmental
organization to be liquidated by a regional Supreme Court on 10 February. – The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns this
decision, which violates the human rights of an important organization, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. Agora's chair
Pavel Chikov met Prime Minister Erna Solberg when he visited Oslo in October 2015. Photo: Prime minister's Office
A new list of political prisoners in Russia has just been published by Memorial Human Rights Centre. The list now comprises
50 names, as compared to the 46 which were included in the list published in October last year. 10 people have been released,
but 14 have been arrested. None of the political prisoners were acquitted, amnestied or pardoned during this time.
The presentation of the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards 2015, honouring nine prominent politicians, lawyers, and journalists
for their support of the Magnitsky campaign, took place in London on 16 November, six years after the death of the Russian
lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
In Ingushetia on 6 November, armed security servicemen carried out a raid in the offices of the human rights organization
MASHR and in the private home of the organization’s head Magomed Mutsolgov. The masked men removed large amounts of documents,
office computers and even the children’s iPad.
”The Norwegian Helsinki Committee welcomes the decision by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,
on October 8 to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC to open an investigation of core international crimes
during the war in Georgia in 2008,” says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
During the opening of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly autumn session today, prominent Russian human rights defender
Ludmilla Alexeeva was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The award honours outstanding civil society action in
defence of human rights, and it includes a €60 000 prize. - NHC warmly congratulates Ludmilla, she is one of the founders
of the Russian human rights movement. To award the prize to her this year in particular, while we are celebrating the 40 year
anniversary of the Helsinki Declaration, carries a lot of symbolic weight, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland says at the
news of the prize.
A new policy paper from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee presented today argues that Norway and other democratic countries
should establish mechanisms to freeze the assets of persons who commit gross violations of human rights with impunity and
prohibit their entry into the country – the victims of these violations being human rights defenders or whistle-blowers.
On the 2nd anniversary of the murder of independent Russian journalist, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
signed a joint letter with 27 other NGOs calling for the investigation into his case to be urgently raised to the federal
On April 25, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents. NHC
was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself
in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles,
approx. 9 500 USD. On 9 April Golos, a renowned human rights NGO conducting election monitoring in Russia, and Golos director
Lilia Shibanova, was informed by the Ministry of Justice that a case is initiated against them for being in breach of the
2012 "foreign agents law”. – To initiate legal actions against a human rights organizations for not having registered as a
“foreign agent”, is a violation by Russian authorities of international standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary
General. The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders clearly states the rights of human rights defenders to receive
funding from abroad.
On 8 October 2013, Mikhail Kosenko, one of the defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya square case was found guilty of taking
part in mass disorder (article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code) during the “March of the Millions” on 6 May 2012. The Zamoskvoretsky
Regional court also found him guilty of physically assaulting police officers (article 318 of the Criminal Code) . - The Norwegian
Helsinki Committee is critical of the trial, which did not comply with fair trial standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal,
Deputy Secretary General. - The conclusions of the court were not backed by solid evidence. Two police witnesses were unable
to identify Kosenko as a person who had been involved in any violence. In the photo, Aleksandra Dukhanina, another of the
victims from Bolotnaya awaiting trial is arrested. Photo: Rustam Adagamov
The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), of which NHC is a foundig member, has issued a statement today strongly
protesting severe harrassment and intimidation of election observers from the Russian election observer organisation GOLOS.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is saddened and shocked by the news of the murder of Russia’s prominent opposition politician
Boris Nemtsov, shot dead the in the heart of Moscow in the late evening of 27 February. – The murder of Boris Nemtsov must be independently and transparently investigated and the people responsible be brought to
justice, whether they pulled the trigger or ordered the killing, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian
Helsinki Committee. – We express our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Boris Nemtsov.
Together with 46 other international organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has signed a letter sent yesterday to
the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Ya. Chaika, where we appeal to take all necessary measures to free environmental
defender Evgeny G. Vitishko (born July 3, 1973) immediately and unconditionally; to initiate legal proceedings regarding the
wrongful conviction of Evgeny Vitishko; hold those responsible for his conviction legally accountable; and clarify the withdrawal
by the Office of Prosecutor General of the request to vacate the decision of the Tuapse city court of Krasnodar Krai from
December 12, 2013 to revoke the suspended sentence and transfer Evgeny Vitishko to a penal settlement colony. We also ask
you to investigate the facts of the violation of water and forest laws in Bzhid township (Tuapse District, Krasnodar Krai).
The Memorial lawyer Murad Magomedov was attacked yesterday, February 4, and beaten by five men outside the Dagestan Supreme
Court building in Makhachkala, Dagestan. He sustained severe head injuries and is in critical condition in hospital, unable
to explain the details of what happened to him. Murad Magomadov had been defending villagers of the Vremennyi village in Dagestan
who were lost everything during a so-called counter terrorism operation autumn 2014.
Together with 30 other international human rights organisation, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to Aleksandr
Bastrykin, Head of the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation, calling for progress in the investigation into the murder of the
journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev.
Sous couvert de la guerre en Ukraine, la Russie et ses Etats voisins attaquent les défenseurs des droits de l’Homme et les
médias. Les Etats démocratiques doivent oeuvrer pour protéger les défenseurs en danger.
Together with the London based organisation Fair Trials International, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized a breakfast
seminar tuesday at the Hotel Bristol as a side event to the Oslo Freedom Forum, discussing how INTERPOL is being abused by
Don’t forget about the political prisoners in Russia, it can prevent them from being killed! This was the message from Nadezhda
Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two Pussy Riot/Zona Prava members that participated at the packed Norwegian Helsinki
Committee seminar Safeguarding international institutions against authoritarian abuse on 13 May.
A decision by the Moscow City Court published on 8 September 2014 concludes that the Association Golos, an election watchdog,
and its former executive director Lilia Shibanova, have not violated the law on “foreign agents”. Golos had refused to register
as a “foreign agent”, which is required by the law for organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined
political activities. – This is an important decision and indeed good news for Golos, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General
of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Lower courts found Golos in breach of the law because of receiving our Sakharov Freedom
Award in 2012. The Moscow City Court, however, said that since Golos did not receive the 10 000 US Dollar prize money, it
was not obliged to register. The ruling is a serious defeat for the Ministry of Justice.
During a conference on Strengthening Human Rights in Russia organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with
Amnesty International Norway in Oslo on September 19-22 this year, a resolution on establishing the Natalia Estemirova Documentation
Center was adopted by a group of nine leading Russian and international human rights organizations.
The NHC presents our sixth policy paper of 2014. The so-called Foreign Agents Law has already hit hundreds of non-governmental
organizations unwilling to register, and its chilling effect is no longer a prediction but a reality. The paper argues that
the Foreign Agents Law has dire consequences for Russian civil society, violates human rights and should be repealed.
The NHC presents our fifth policy paper of 2014. The policy paper shows how a Russian sponsored initiative at the UN Human
Rights Council has been targeting core tenets of international human rights. The proponents of the initiative have camouflaged
it as laying out new ways of promoting human rights. Traditional values of humankind are a tool to strengthen and underpin
human rights at the local level, they claim. In reality, the initiative threatens to destroy consensus among the states of
the world on how they should honor their human rights obligations.
17th of May is not only a celebration of the Norwegian national day; it is also the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO).
While blue-copies of the Russian legislation banning so-called propaganda of non-traditional relations is on the rise all
over Eastern Europe, while LGBTI persons are beaten and killed, public events are banned, peaceful activists are arrested
and homo- and transphobia flourish; IDAHO is a reminder that the international community bears responsibility for securing
the human rights of sexual and gender minorities all over.
Russian officials suspected of torturing and killing whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky are named in the formal application
now under consideration by the Chief Public Prosecutor of Norway Siri Frigaard. The application refers to Oleg Silchenko,
Russian Interior Ministry officer in charge of Magnitsky’s arrest and detention, and others, including Mr Dmitry Markov and
Mr Oleg Kuznetsov - two senior officers of Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, where Magnitsky was killed after rubber batons
and handcuffs were used on him by prison guards. The application has been submitted by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
NHC is proud to present our new publication format, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's policy paper. Our first policy paper
is a Q&A on the Ukraine, Russia crisis, where we want to point to some of the main legal and human rights issues in the current
situation. You can read and download the policy paper below.
- The judgments by a Moscow court of eight Bolotnaya protesters to prison terms from two and half to four years must be seen
in the context of Kremlin efforts to stifle opposition, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. - The judgments
send a chilling message to ordinary Russians that they should refrain from taking part in protests against President Vladimir
Putin and his rule. If not they may face serious consequences. The judgments target Russian civic activism and basic freedoms.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, of behalf of the Norwegian NGO Forum for Human Rights, has submitted the annual recommendations
to the Government of Norway on human rights at United Nations. The recommendations are particularly directed towards Norway's
efforts before the UN Human Rights Council, but are relevant also to other UN bodies.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has produced a manual for journalists travelling to the Olympics in Sochi. The manual covers
the political, human rights and environmental context of the winter games, which are taking place in a city on the Black Sea
which has around 350,000 inhabitants. The manual is part of a major partnership to draw attention to the problematic aspects
of the winter games in Sochi and developments in Russia regarding human rights and respect for human dignity, which is a central
value of the Olympic Movement. The manual also includes an extensive list of useful contacts.
During the Winter session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today, an overwhelming majority voted for
the adoption of the report "Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky"
A new book edited by Russian-French journalist Elena Servettaz, arguing for Europe to enact a Magnitsky law similar to the
US Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was launched in the UK on 5 November. -The book presents powerful arguments
that Europe should deny visa and freeze assets of those who killed Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights violators, said
Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General.
– The guilty verdicts of lawyer and world known whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and the man he represented, William Browder,
CEO of Hermitage Management Capital, by a Moscow court on 11 July 2013 represents a new low point in Russia’s efforts to distort
facts and cover-up the real wrongdoing in the case, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The Magnitsky
case implicates Russian authorities in a series of human rights violations, including illegal arrest, torture, and failure
to provide medical treatment. Now they have added new violations to the list; exposing the legal nihilism and lack of rule
of law in the country.
– The killing of journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev on Tuesday 9 July should be promptly investigated and those responsible
should be prosecuted, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The attempted murder on Akhmednabiev in January
2013 was ignored by the Prosecutor’s office, in spite of a Dagestan Supreme Court decision that it should be investigated.
This culture of impunity for those attacking and even murdering journalists and human rights defenders in North Caucasus must
end. If not, authorities will remain complicit in these killings.
The Siberian newspaper Yakutsk Vecherny, and Yelena Kostyuchenko, journalist of Novaya Gazeta, were among the laureates of
this year’s Press Freedom Award, issued by Fritt Ord and Zeit Stiftung. – The prize jury has come to an important and appropriate
decision, drawing attention to the deteriorating conditions for freedom of speech and the difficult situation for journalists
in today’s Russia, said Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the legislation waved through this week by the Russian State Duma; prohibiting “propaganda
of non-traditional sexual relations”. The restrictive legislation is part of a wider trend of worsening human rights situation
for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Russian Civic Assistance Committee will soon present a book,- a collection of memories of eyewitnesses of and participants
in the Chechen wars. The title of the book, published in Russian, is ‘Stories of one war’ / Каждый молчит о своем: истории
One of Russia’s most respected human rights defenders, Svetlana Gannushkina, is prosecuted for “failure to comply with legal
requirements by the Prosecutor” and is to stand trial on 4 June. Gannushkina, the head of the Civic Assistance Committee (CAC),
suspended cooperation with the Moscow Prosecutors' office in April 2013 because unreasonable requirements were imposed on
her organization. In 2007, Svetlana received the Sakharov Freedom Award from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. She has been
nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by Erna Solberg, the head of the Conservative Party in Norway.
-Norwegian authorities should contribute to Europe enacting Magnitsky type legislation, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy
Secretary General. – There is need for new ways of addressing the very serious human rights violations that take place in
Russia from the part of European governments and institutions. Magnitsky legislation may prove to be an efficient supplement
to regional and international human rights mechanisms. Norway should signal support of the EU enacting Magnitsky type legislation.
Today, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents.NHC was a
witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in
violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx.
9 500 USD. Follow updates on our Facebook-page and on Twitter nhc_no.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about recent developments in Russia related to freedom of association
and the rights of human rights defenders to conduct their work, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – Large numbers of
non-government organizations were today subject to inspections from authorities, including Memorial and other well-known human
rights organisations. The inspections are follow-up on recently adopted restrictive legislation that violates freedom of association
and aims at obstructing human rights work in the country. European institutions and governments should react strongly.
Russian Association 'Golos' was presented the Sakharov Freedom Award at a ceremony which also marked Norwegian Helsinki Committee
35 years' anniversary on 23 October. Lilya Shibanova accepted the award on behalf of the organisation she leads. - It is a
great honor to receive the Sakharov Freedom award. The recognition comes at a very important and suitable time for us, were
Russian democracy is dwindling and organisatons like ours are under fierce attack from the authorities. The anniversary was
also celebrated by a well attended seminar opened by Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
On 6 February 2013, the regional court in Nizhny Novgorod ruled that the city administration had violated human rights when
refusing to provide time and place for a March of millions demonstration. – The court’s recognition that the provisions of
the European Convention on Human Rights should prevail is a promising development, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, NHC Deputy
Secretary General. – It should set precedence for other courts handling similar cases of protesters being denied their rights
under Russian and international law to freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
In a statement today the Civic Society Platform, which includes the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, condemned the December 19
raid on the premises of the Human Rights House in Voronezh by Russian police. The statement calls on the international community
to speak out against this and other cases of harassment against civil society in Russia.
The Moscow City Court today decided to exclude the Russian Justice Initiative from the list of international organisations
allowed to function in Russia. – The court decision sets an alarming precedence, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of
the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. It means that one of the biggest international human rights organisations in Russia is prohibited
from doing its important work. It opens up for more similar cases against other international organisations.
A draft law criminalizing “promotion of homosexuality among minors” is to be considered by the Russian Parliament on 19 December.
The draft violates the right to freedom of expression and association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex
In an article in Foreign Policy, Tanya Lokshina, senior researcher and deputy director at the Moscow office of Human Rights
Watch and longtime NHC cooperator, looks at the current political crackdown sweeping Russia following Vladimir Putin’s May
7 presidential inauguration.
Tblisi,10 November 2012: Grave crimes were committed during the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008. The NHC documented
war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the cessation of hostilities. In the years since, the NHC has investigated
in Georgia and Russia, trying to assess whether domestic investigations are on-going and effective.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is represented also at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw.
In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on the importance of independent judiciary drawing upon the examples of
the Sergey Magnitsky case in Russia and the case against several oppositionals in Western Kazakhstan, and also drawing attention
to governments' obligation to facilitate human rights eduaction, including by refraining from hindering participation by visa
The Association Golos is awarded the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award 2012 for its outstanding efforts to promote democratic
values through free and fair elections in Russia, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says in a statement today.
In a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre today, NHC express concern with recent developments in the Russian
Federation related to the on-going crackdown against opposition leaders and human rights activists, as well as the adoption
of restrictive legislation on public rallies. - President Putin pledged to inspire “greater participation of citizens in
public affairs” and to have “more consultations with different sectors of society about legal reforms” on the day of his inauguration,
Secretary Bjørn Engelsnad says. Recent developments stand in sharp contrast to these words.
In a letter sent today to the Federal Minister of Justice in Austria Dr. Beatrix Karl, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together
with Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders, Austrian Helsinki Association, European Center for Constitutional and Human
Rights, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urges the Austrian government to request the extradition of
Lecha Bogatyrov from the Russian Federation. Lecha Bogatyrov is the man who allegedly fired the fatal shots that killed the
Chechen exile Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. Three men were convicted 1 June 2011 by the Vienna Landesgericht
to long prison sentences for the killing of Israilov, but the current current impunity for Mr. Israilov’s alleged killer should
be treated as a political issue by the Austrian government.
(26/08-2010) Lev Ponomarev, the Russian human rights activist and the leader of the movement “For Human Rights” was arrested
yesterday and got three days administrative punishment under article 19.3 Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation
(charged with “insubordination to legal order of a policeman”). On August 22, Lev Ponomarev, together with the representatives
of the movement “Soilidarity” Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Shnayder carried Russian flag at Novy Arbat on the Russian Flag Day.
All three were arrested right after and charged with unauthorized demonstration and insubordination to policemen. The Moscow
Presnenskij court refused to arrest Nemtsov and ordered the case to be further investigated, as the judge didn’t find the
facts of “insubordination to policemen”. Mikhail Shnayder’s case was planned to be proceeded today, August 26.
(24/09-2010) - With the ascension of Dmitry Medvedev to the Russian presidency, a new kind of political rhetoric entered the
Kremlin. Medvedev says he wants to combat legal nihilism, and has pledged reform and modernization. Do the modernization plans
offer possibilities for Russian human rights groups, asked Secretary General Bjørn Engesland in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
in his introduction at a public seminar organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on 22 September.
A Just Russia party candidate in the 4 March 2012 mayor elections in Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, ended his 40 days hunger strike
on 24 April after receiving access to webcam videos from polling stations in Astrakhan. Shein and his supporters had filed
a law suit claiming that massive fraud had taken place during the elections. – The Central Election Commission should give
full access to videos in order to help investigation of all substantiated cases of fraud, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy
Three days ahead of the 4 March 2012 Presidential elections in Russia there is little doubt about the outcome. Despite increasing
public protests against prime minister Vladimir Putin, all indications suggest that he will declare victory, probably after
the first ballot. This will happen in an environment where free and fair elections are not possible. The Norwegian Helsinki
Committee (NHC) will be present in Moscow during the elections.
- Putin will not survive the next presidential term. He will off course win the upcoming elections, he is in reality the only
candidate, but he will be replaced within two years. The Russian political elites will ensure this, together with the protesters
in the streets. This was one of the conclusions of Nicolay Petrov, who participated at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s
seminar Presidential Elections in Russia – a New Spring?, at the House of Literature in Oslo on 15 February.
(24/09-2010) With the ascension of Dmitry Medvedev to the Russian presidency, a new kind of political rhetoric entered the
Kremlin. Medvedev says he wants to combat legal nihilism, and has pledged reform and modernization. Do the modernization plans
offer possibilities for Russian human rights groups, asked Secretary General Bjørn Engesland in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
in his introduction at a public seminar organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on 22 September.
The credibility of the upcoming Presidential Elections in Russia, already marred by the claims of widespread violations in
Parliamentary polls in December last year, is waning after Central Elections Commission’s refusal to register the liberal
opposition leader, Grigory Yavlinsky for the Presidential race. At the same time, renewed pressure against the respected election
monitor organization and NHC partner Golos is disquieting, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General.
Associate Professor of Law Mr. Jeffrey Khan has recently submitted a report to President Medvedev’s Human Rights Council analyzing
the second verdict against the imprisoned former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
- Russian authorities should accept peaceful demonstrations against unfair elections, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General
of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. - Norway and EU countries should publicly urge Russian authorities to investigate violations
of election legislation and respect freedom of expression and assembly.
The tendency in the result of the voting yesterday nevertheless shows that the Russian population is getting wary of the tightfisted
rule of the Medvedev/Putin tandem, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland. -Independent
national observers all over the country have registered countless violations in the election legislation, including pressure
against voters to vote for the ruling party United Russia.
Russian authorities undermining trust in elections by impeding monitoring. In the run-up to Russian Duma elections taking
place on Sunday 4 December, the country’s most experienced election monitoring group is being under scrutiny by prosecutors
and pro-government media. –The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned that these are deliberate attempts at hindering Golos
important work, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary-General. “By limiting monitoring of the elections, authorities are also undermining
trust in elections being conducted in compliance with international standards of freeness and fairness.”
The elections process ahead of the 4 December Duma elections in the Russian Federation has not been fair”, said Bjørn Engesland,
Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. “We have serious concerns on obstacles related to nomination of delegates
and registration of parties, as well as lack of equal opportunities to campaign.”
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is actively and well represented at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
in Warsaw. In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on freedom of religion in Central Asia, rule of law in Azerbaijan,
Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and freedom of expression in Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. We are organising a side-event
on lack of justice after major human rights violations in Russia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally we organise
a side-event on strikers' rights in Kazakhstan and we are also co-organising a side-event with particular focus on Ales Bialiatski
and the release of political prisoners in Belarus. Below you will find links to the HDIM webpage, all documents from our side-events
and interventions and other relevant links.
(07/10-2010) Today, on 7 October, it is four years since the prominent and courageous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya
was shot and killed at the entrance of her apartment in Moscow. We remember Anna particularly for her commitment in Chechnya.
(14/12-2010) International and Russian human rights organizations have sent a letter to the President of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe expressing concern with the lack of effective implementation of its resolution 1738 (2010)
on Legal remedies for human rights defenders in North Caucasus.
On Tuesday, a Moscow court ruled to acquit Oleg P. Orlov, Chair of the Memorial Human Rights Society, one of Europe’s most
respected human rights groups. Mr. Orlov was charged with defamation against Chechen President Ramzan A. Kadyrov, in connection
with statements Orlov made at the time Memorial employee and award winning human rights defender Natalya Estemirova was killed
in 2009. - I welcome the ruling in our colleague Oleg Petrovich’s case as a step in the right direction for a judicial system that
historically has lacked willingness to support and protect human rights defenders, says NHC Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
Last week, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee hosted a delegation of Azeri, Belarusian, Russian and international human rights
defenders. They took part in seminars arranged by the NHC at the Norwegian parliament Stortinget and the Fritt Ord Foundation.
In their recomendations to the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE and Stortinget, they called for a sharpening
of human rights policies towards Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia.
- The Norwegian Helsinki Committee would like to extend its sincerest congratulations to Svetlana Alekseevna Gannushkina,
who yesterday became a Knight of the French Legion of Honour,” says Secretary-General Bjørn Engesland.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply distraught to learn of yet another violent attack on human rights activist and
employee of Human Rights Center Memorial, Bakhrom Khamroev, in Moscow on Monday June 6th 2011.
The Court in Vienna is to reach a verdict on the murder of the refugee who accused Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov of torture
today, on 1 June 2011. On the eve of the verdict the coalition of human rights groups monitoring the trial wants to emphasize
the importance of this emblematic case and expresses its regret at the absence of cooperation of the Russian Federation with
the Austrian justice.
At these exceptional times – when authoritarian regimes are falling or are under serious pressure by democratic forces in
the Middle East and North Africa – we witness that Europe’s last authoritarian states are successful in retaining control
and undermining democratic developments.
Bjørn Engesland, secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has today sent a letter to Lyudmila Alexeeva, co-founder
and leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) congratulating the Russian human rights organisation on its 35 years' anniversary.
The verdict in the case of murdering the Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova is finalized.
On May 6, 2011, after more than two years of investigation and lengthy court hearings, the persons, accused of their murder,