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Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [1] and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [2], the Solidarity Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum would like to stress the importance of the international documents defending human rights defenders and activists [3], as well as the necessity for governments and societies to endorse and implement those principles.
It is one of the goals of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum to cooperate in order to reinforce existing networks and help ensure safe and favourable conditions for the work of all civil society organisations and activists across Europe.
Quite a few civil society actors are currently under threat. To name a few, Oyub Titiev, Director of the Regional Branch of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” in Grozny (Chechen Republic), is going through a semi-closed trial in the Shali City Court on the charges of the illegal possession of large amount of marijuana [4]. On 14 June 2018, Yuri Dmitriev, Director of the Karelian Branch of ”Memorial”, saw his acquittal overturned by judges after the Petrozavodsk City Court had found him ‘not guilty’ [5]; subsequently, the prominent historian has been put on trial again [6]. The murders of investigative journalists persist, including cases in the EU member states, in particular Ján Kuciak (Slovakia) [7] in February 2018 and Daphne Caruana Galizia (Malta) [8] in October 2017.
As Solidarity Group, we continue to call for the prompt efficient investigation into all the cases of the persecution of the civil society actors, ensuring access to justice for them, punishing the perpetrators.
In the next months, we are planning to contribute to solidarity work by:
·        monitoring the situation with civil society in the EU member states and Russia, including facilitating observers’ missions to court hearings, especially those based on fabricated matters, on cases targeting civil society actors and ensuring their release;
·        advocating for measures to stop repression against civil society actors and journalists and ensuring that perpetrators of the violent attacks against them were brought to justice;
·        prompt assistance to organisations and activists in danger.
The Solidarity Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum invites other civil society actors, like-minded international organisations and stakeholders to jointly pursue this important mission for the sake of a just and prosperous society.
5 December 2018

Contacts:  
Olga Salomatova, Coordinator of the Solidarity Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum/ Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland);  o.salomatova@hfhr.org.pl
Elena Shakhova, Member of the Solidarity Group of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum/ Citizens Watch (Russia);  evshakhova@gmail.com


[1] See https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/53/144 and https://undocs.org/en/A/C.3/72/L.50/Rev.1
[2] See https://undocs.org/A/RES/217(III)
[3] See inter alia the “Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders” published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the “Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders” published by the European Union
[4] See the statement by the Board of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum of 11 October 2018:
[5] See https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/civil-society-and-media/2018/06/supreme-court-overturns-acquittal-yuri-dmitriev
[6] See more at https://dmitrievaffair.com
[7] See www.euronews.com/2018/09/27/at-least-one-suspect-arrested-in-the-murder-of-journalist-jan-kuciak-local-reports-say
[8] See www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/daphne-caruana-galizia-murder-three-charged-ten-arrested-video-footage-a8095166.html