24 Jun, 2021

Statement by the ALDE Party Bureau on the situation in Russia

The ALDE Party Bureau has issued the following statement on the situation in Russia on 24 June 2021:

Recent events combined with the increasing rise of authoritarian and populist rule and the deterioration of EU-Russia diplomatic relations are a powerful reminder that we need to stand strong and united to defend the principles of democracy, of freedom of conscience, of freedom of speech, of human rights and civil liberties, all powerfully advocated by Russian dissent and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, whose centenary we marked in May 2021.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in September. But in a country where dissent is routinely suppressed and increasingly without fear of ramifications, where public information is controlled, and where elections are manipulated, we already anticipate these to be neither free nor fair.

We affirm our unwavering commitment to democracy and the conduct of free and fair elections.

We condemn the constant reprisals against dissenting voices to the regime, the crackdowns on conferences gathering independent lawmakers, and the passing this week by the State Duma of a bill that would ban supporters and members of any organisations deemed "extremist" by the Putin Regime from being elected to any post.

We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including amongst others Alexei Navalny, and for the end of pressure on other prominent opposition figures, including amongst others Dmitry Gudkov who has left for Ukraine, who are the latest victims in Putin’s opposition crackdown.

We object to the increasing crackdown on civil society NGOs and journalistic organisations through labelling them as “foreign agents”, “extremist” and “undesirable organisations”, the latest being the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and three German NGOs (Forum Russischsprachiger Europaer e.V., Zentrum fur die Liberale Moderne GmbH, and Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V.,). Such actions severely threaten their existence and work to help build open dialogue and a vibrant Russian civil society.

We deplore the fact that Russian intelligence services caused the explosion of the arms depot in Vrbětice in the Czech Republic in the 2014, which killed two people, and represents an unacceptable violation of Czech, and therefore EU, sovereignty. We underline our strong solidarity with the Czech Republic. We reiterate our condemnation of the Russian involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the poisoning of Russian citizens, the illegal annexation of Crimea and ongoing conflict in the Donbass, and the support and alleged assistance of Russia in the outlandish and illegal detainment of journalist Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega while flying over Belarussian airspace between two EU capitals.

We deplore the constant disinformation drives, especially now during a global pandemic when Russia is seeking to undermine European confidence in approved vaccines at the same time as Russia is failing to vaccinate and protect its own citizens.

We welcome the EU strategy on Russia presented by the EU high representative Borrell as requested by EU Heads of State and Government at the 24-25 May European Council to “push back, constrain and engage”, but we urge the EU to be uncompromising and unwavering in the EU’s defence of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This strategy should be ready to use all of the tools at the EU’s disposal, including the EU Magnitsky Act in addition to expanding the current sanctions regime against Russia, and prevent national actions, most notably Nordstream 2, that undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the common European approach to Russia.

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