“The arrest of more than 100 people in Moscow and St Petersburg yesterday is yet another illustration of the intolerance of the Russian authorities towards people expressing their opinions peacefully.
I stressed on several occasions that the sanitary restrictions introduced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic must not be used to unduly limit human rights and freedoms.
I call on the Russian authorities to overhaul legislation and practice governing freedom of assembly and of expression, including in the context of the pandemic, in order to align them with European human rights standards.
I will continue to monitor closely the respect of freedom of assembly and expression in the coming days and I look forward to further engaging with the Russian authorities during the visit to the country that I plan to carry out this year.
In the meantime, I held a video conference this morning with the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, Tatiana Moskalkova. In addition to the issue of freedom of assembly , I also underscored the need to ensure a safe and enabling context in which human rights defenders can carry out their activities and I expressed my concerns about the ongoing criminal proceedings against Svetlana Prokopyeva, Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, Yulia Tsvetkova, Anastasia Shevchenko and Yuri Dmitriev. We also discussed human rights issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular domestic violence, the situation of persons in detention and minority language rights.”