4th Regional conference of Russia’s compatriots in Northern Europe and Baltic Sea countries (April 27-28, 2018, Oslo)

PROTEST against the detention of a Latvian rights activist Alexander Gaponenko

To:

the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — Chairperson Amir Noureddine;

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Mr Tendayi Achiume;

Office for democratic institutions and human rights — Director Ingebjorg Solrun Gisladottir;

the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe

Ms Dunja Mijatovic,

The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 

Mr Lamberto Zannier,

Independent Expert on minority issues Fernand de Varennes;

Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay,

the President of the European Parliament, Mr Antonio Tajani,

the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk,

the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker

 

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

On April 20, this year, the Security Police of Latvia has detained a former councillor of Riga city, the leader of an informal organisation “Congress of Non-Citizens”, an activist of the Russian Schools Defence Staff, Dr. oec. Alexander Gaponenko, on suspicions of anti-state activity. On April 21, the court of the Vidzeme District of Riga has approved his further detention.

It was not made public, what are the accusations against the well-known author and rights activist. However, it is known that he has never called to break the law, i.e., to any violent action against the constitutional order of the Republic of Latvia.

Therefore we consider this decision of a Latvian court to be fully disproportionate and, moreover, intended to intimidate the part of the public who actively protest against the long-term democratic deficit having formed in Latvia.  One of the most recent expressions of that deficit is the decision of the Latvian Parliament of March 22, to abolish schools with Russian language of instruction. It has been adopted despite blatantly violating the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe, ratified by Latvia.

It is worth mentioning that in 2004, under a similar pretext of an alleged national security threat, the Security Police of Latvia had detained and deported one of the leaders of the movement for defending Russian-language schools, Alexander Kazakov. Like now, no information about allegedly illegal activity of Mr Kazakov was made public. It was only 8 years later, when it became known that there were no legal grounds for his expulsion, and the Security Police had acted in the interests of specific political forces, not in the interests of the rule of law.  

One must also note that in the public part of the annual reports of the Security Police of Latvia, many Russian-language media and leaders of Russian-speakers’ NGOs get baselessly accused of subversive activities. Such unfounded accusations are not only harmful for the reputations of the people and media mentioned. They also lead to strengthening of Anti-Russian sentiment and Russophobia in the society, i.e., ignite interethnic tensions in the country.

The 4th Regional conference of Russias compatriots in Northern Europe and Baltic Sea countries PROTESTS against the detention in Riga of a well-known rights activist, blogger and public figure, the leader of the “Congress of Non-Citizens” Alexander Gaponenko. 

WE CALL UPON the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Ms Dunja Mijatovic, The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mr Lamberto Zannier, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, the President of the European Parliament, Mr Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker

TO TAKE MEASURES for the protection of the national minorities and people lawfully protesting against arbitrariness, for the respect to fundamental European democratic values, in the Republic of Latvia.

Yours faithfully,

Delegates of the 4th Regional conference of Russia’s compatriots in Northern Europe and Baltic Sea countries

April 28, 2018