The document calls for the release of all political prisoners and the introduction of sanctions against officials responsible for violations
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and senior committee member Michael McCall unveiled a bill on Monday condemning the Kremlin’s policy of imprisoning journalists, opposition figures and activists. The resolution calls on Russia to immediately release all political prisoners, and the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russian officials responsible for these human rights violations..
“Vladimir Putin is a brutal authoritarian leader with a long history of suppressing civil liberties, including press freedom, freedom of speech, political opposition and democracy,” Engel said, citing the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. – The initiative presented today serves as a clear bipartisan signal to the Kremlin: the US Congress is on the side of heroes who risk their lives for freedom and democracy. I call on the administration to work with us to support the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens by imposing sanctions on Russian officials responsible for these gruesome human rights violations. “.
“What Vladimir Putin fears the most is the truth,” McCall said. – If Vladimir Putin really believed in his ability to lead the country, he would encourage an independent press, demonstrations, free and fair elections. Unfortunately, his regime is too busy trying to hide its many failures. As Americans, we must stand up for the freedoms and democratic aspirations of people around the world. “.
Head of the Program “Support for Political Prisoners and Persecuted Civil Activists” of the Human Rights Center “Memorial” Sergey Davidis believes that such initiatives are always relevant, especially in a pandemic. According to him, people who are in prison during the coronavirus are especially vulnerable and at risk of catching an infection due to the inability to comply with WHO recommendations there..
“But that’s not even the point,” he added in a commentary to the Voice of America Russian Service. – Demands to release people illegally convicted for political reasons should be presented tirelessly. And the fact that such a demand was clearly voiced as an initiative submitted to the US Congress is gratifying. “.
Sergei Davidis also noted that he does not indulge himself in the Kremlin’s reaction. In his opinion, the Russian authorities are unlikely to strictly follow the demands of the congressmen: “But the very fact of introducing such a resolution already demonstrates attention to the problem. It is a necessary element of pressure. This is important both for political prisoners, and for Russian society, and for world opinion, which is also given a sign in this way. This voice will undoubtedly be joined by other voices. “.
On the other hand, the document recalls the need for personal responsibility of those persons who are responsible for carrying out politically motivated repressions, the human rights activist emphasized: “So, among other things, this may have some practical value. Of course, many of those who, in one way or another, are involved in this process, have nothing to lose. However, for some it may be an argument when choosing to break the law or not “.
Of course, such an initiative can only be welcomed, summed up Sergey Davidis.
The chairman of the national public organization “For Human Rights” is in full agreement with him. Lev Ponomarev. In his opinion, such an initiative is more than appropriate..
“Because Russia is going through an authoritarian or even totalitarian restoration today,” he explained in a commentary to the Voice of America Russian Service. – Such totalitarian practices, alas, are reviving in some cases. And this is extremely bad “.
Of course, political prisoners should be released, Lev Ponomarev is convinced. At the same time, he highlighted the dramatic situation in Russia of Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Now hundreds of believers are under investigation or are in jail and colonies. Some of them were beaten in custody. Many believers have already left the country. Let me remind you that Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted only by fascist regimes – Hitler’s and Soviet. Therefore, this is a very significant phenomenon “.
Full Committee Markup of Various Measures (EventID=110037)
In addition, representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir are imprisoned in Russia for alleged terrorism, reminds the human rights activist: “Although there are no signs of preparation or participation in terrorism there. Our legislation is completely distorted, and it needs to be changed. These are real ulcers. In addition, a totalitarian practice of regulating mass actions has developed in Russia. People simply cannot take to the streets to protest peacefully. This is also absolutely unacceptable “.
So the initiative of the congressmen is very timely and correct, and here the question must be raised very harshly, concluded the chairman of the national public organization “For Human Rights”.