Posts Tagged ‘conferences’
I’m currently in Vilnius, Lithuania, at a conference organized by Community of Democracies. It’s a loose intergovernmental organization, which includes most democratic countries (and, for some reason, a few undemocratic ones).
Tonight I met, together with a group of activists from other countries, with Hillary Clinton. The meeting itself was off the record, but I may publish what I said.
One of the major problems of the Russian political system is the impunity of those responsible for attacks on activists and journalists. International sanctions directed against these individuals could not only restore justice to some degree but also deter others from participating in persecution. I am pleased to see that Sergei Magnitsky Act that can help implement such a policy is being considered by Congress. I also hope that the European Union will enact similar legislation. I wish the State Department took some steps of its own regarding this issue.
At the very least, those involved in human rights abuses should not receive support from democratic countries. For instance, a number of Western companies, including Cisco and Ernst & Young, are among the sponsors of a large Seliger Forum that will open tomorrow. Its organizer, the former leader of the infamous Nashi group, Vasiliy Yakemenko, is widely believed to be connected, among other things, with the attempt to assassinate journalist Oleg Kashin. I think that a strong statement from US officials could discourage such irresponsible corporate behavior.
These days I am participating in the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum in Helsinki. By coincidence (well, at least the organizers say it is a coincidence), Dmitry Medvedev and the Finnish President Tarja Halonen are also meeting not far from here. The participants of the Forum used this opportunity to adopt an address to the two:
Dear President Halonen,
Dear President Medvedev,
While you are meeting today in Finland, we, representatives of Russian and Finnish civil societies, are also gathering here to discuss how non-governmental actors can contribute to cooperation between our two nations and to building a common European space based on the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights. We would like to draw your attention to the following concerns, which are in the center of our discussions today.
Like you, dear Presidents, we also want to see Russia a modern and prosperous country. However, we believe that without ensuring fundamental freedoms, building strong democratic institutions and an independent judiciary any technological modernization efforts will fail. It goes without saying that free and fair elections and independence of the media are essential to this process.
We want to share with you some of our immediate concerns, which require resolute actions that go beyond declarations.
In particular, we are convinced that the draft law granting new powers to the FSB contradicts not only the Russian Constitution but also recognized international norms. Therefore, it should not be signed by the President of the Russian Federation.
We are extremely concerned about continued persecution of human rights defenders, political activists, trade unionists and journalists in Russia. Instead of fighting terrorism and organized crime, thousands of law enforcement officials harass civic and political activists, often under the pretext of fighting extremism. This practice must be stopped. Murders of human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers must be effectively investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice. Impunity simply must come to an end.
Lack of fair trial and due process fundamentally undermine access to justice in Russia. This includes torture in pretrial detention centers, politically motivated trials in cases of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and others; persecution of Alexey Sokolov and Oleg Orlov for their human rights work and Valentin Urusov for his trade union activism, as well as the lack of effective investigation of murders of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Sergey Magnitsky. In the case of Magnitsky it is even more blatant because the names of those responsible for his death are well known. This list is by far not exhaustive.
Freedom of assembly continues to be denied to the Russian public. Across Europe we are united in support of Russian activists who convene peaceful gatherings in the framework of ”Strategy 31.” In a week from now, we will again express our solidarity with Russian people in Helsinki, Prague, Brussels, Berlin and other cities across the continent. We call on you, President Medvedev, to guarantee the freedom of assembly on 31 July and in the future.
We hope, President Halonen and President Medvedev, that these concerns close to our hearts will form an important part of your dialogue and that future Russian-Finnish modernization cooperation will include concrete projects in such areas as building independent judiciary, strengthening the rule of law and developing robust democratic institutions.
I’ve successfully defended my master’s thesis in Political Science at Higher School of Economics, received an A+ and been recommended for the PhD program. My thesis was entitled “Nonviolent Democratic Revolutions in Eastern Europe” and focused on Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.
Now that the academic work is completed, I’m heading off to Finland to participate in the following conference:
FINROSFORUM 2008 | Helsinki 9-10 June 2008
The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (www.finrosforum.fi) will organise a seminar, FINROSFORUM 2008, in the fortress of Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) in Helsinki on 9-10 June 2008. The conference venue is the Tenaille von Fersen. This is the second annual seminar of its kind. The participants at this year’s event include several members of the human rights and democracy movement in as well as Russian experts from Finland, Estonia, and elsewhere. The themes of the seminar include the economic costs of an authoritarian regime, the in Russia, the conflict in North Caucasus, the refugee problem in Russia, ethnic relations and nationalism, as well as censorship and self-censorship. A detailed programme, together with short speaker biographies, is available at http://www.finrosforum.fi/?p=90. The programme is available in Finnish, Russian, and Swedish at http://www.finrosforum.fi. The main languages at the seminar will be Finnish and Russian. Translation will be provided. The seminar is open to the public. Participation is free of charge, but we will charge the cost price for meals.
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum
+358 50 511 3129
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum
+358 40 720 5985
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum
+358 44 070 7710
The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum was established in January 2007 by a group of people concerned about the erosion of democracy and human rights in Russia. The organisation strives to promote cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, andin Russia.
If you are in Finland, stop by and meet me!