– We have asked the Russian police to ensure that Valentina Likhoshva will be safe, and that the threats against her are properly investigated, says Mina Skouen, Head of the Equal Rights section in the Norwegian Helsinki Commitee.
– People who stand up for human rights in Russia are constantly at risk. We fear that such a climate of impunity leads to more threats and more violence.
Award for work in the Barents region
Likhoshva was recently given the Thorvald Stoltenberg award 2021, for her work with justice and equality, human rights and health in the Barents region. She is a vocal and visible activist, who speaks up for LGBTI persons, people living with HIV/AIDS, sex workers, refugees, and other groups at risk of stigma and marginalization in Russia.
She is well known in Norway for her work with Barents Pride. The statement issued today is signed as an initiative by the Norwegian Barents Pride partners NHC, Foreningen FRI, Amnesty International Norway and Queer World.
The statement can be read here.
The threats against her were posted to an article about the award in the Russian Vkontakte social network, and among other things encourage that she should “burn”. Threats against human rights defenders in Russia is a well-known problem, and the perpetrators are not punished for their actions.
Likhoshva has reported the threats to the police, as “threats to her life or to inflict serious bodily harm” (part 2 of Art. 119 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), and insults, incitement of hatred, and petty hooliganism (Article 5.61, 20.3.1 and 20.1 of the Administrative Code), but there has so far not been taken any action in the matter.
Climate of fear
In the statement issued today the Norwegian organizations express concern for the climate of fear that surrounds human rights defenders, journalists, and activists in Russia. Threats are frequent, brutal, and often translate into violence.
People are harassed, attacked, and killed for their convictions and work for human rights and dignity.
– We ask that the police carry out a thorough and effective investigation and hold the responsible persons accountable to these actions, says Skouen.
– They should take the necessary precautions to ensure the personal safety of Valentina Likhoshva, says Skouen.