August 15, 2019
To: Honourable Minister Chrystia Freeland, Global Affairs Canada
From: Concerned Leaders of Russian Opposition in Canada/UK
Honourable Chrystia Freeland,
Canadian Centre for Development of Democracy in Russia, representing the pro-democracy part of Russian diaspora in Canada, along with international movement «Speak Up!», representing Russian opposition, both express extreme concern with recent violent dispersals of peaceful demonstrations in Moscow. The reason for the demonstrations was the refusal of Moscow election committee to register opposition candidates for municipal elections. During the protest more than two thousand people were illegally detained, many received injuries of different severity. Many are facing prison time due to false accusations. Also, the prominent Russian opposition politicians were illegally arrested. These arrests go completely against the following international and Russian legal norms:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 20 (1). Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
Article 21 (3). The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Constitution of Russian Federation:
Article 31. Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets.
In Canada, there is a Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act also known as Sergei Magnitsky Law. In the section 4(2)(a) there is a mention of persons who are «responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign state». It is further clarified in Section 4(2)(a)(ii) that the affected individuals include those who seek «to obtain, exercise, defend or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the right to a fair trial and democratic elections.»
In our opinion, the action of Russian government, Russian police and Russian national guard in violent dispersals of peaceful protests of 27th of July 3rd of August and 10th of August, as well as mass arrests and violence against peaceful civilians who expressed their disagreement with violations of Constitution of Russian Federation, is a serious violation of internationally recognized human rights and freedoms and warrant a severe punishment. We are also expressing deep concern with a small fraction of Russian diaspora which is under the influence of pro-Kremlin organizations and infected with Putin propaganda. We are calling upon you to take all measures under Magnitsky Law against Russian government officials responsible for these latest human rights violations as well as sanction the companies affiliated with Moscow municipal and regional officials. We would like to provide Canadian Government with all the information that we receive about corrupt Russian officials and companies affiliated with them.
1. Kirill Lyagushev, President of Canadian Center for Development of Democracy in Russia, Montreal, Canada.
2. Andrey Sidelnikov, President, SpeakUp! London, United Kingdom.
3. Dmitri Makienko, Vice-President of Canadian Center for Development of Democracy in Russia, Ottawa, Canada.