Russian assessment of Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights performance

It has become a long and familiar tale how we keep discussing our Western partners’ attitude toward human rights issues rather than the human rights problems themselves.

We noted a statement posted on March 18 on the website of Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, regarding the human rights situation in Chechnya. Skipping over the content of the text and the wording used by the Commissioner, we would like to say the following. 

Dunja Mijatović’s performance as Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe can hardly be viewed as satisfactory. We consider her policies biased and not corresponding to human rights standards. First of all, it concerns how the Commissioner fails to react to problems in other countries, including segregation of “non-citizens” in the Baltic countries; suppression of human rights of the Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine; extrajudicial ban on broadcasting by opposition media outlets in Ukraine; the introduction of TV censorship in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; the suppression of dissent and any attempts to reach out to the authorities in a number of countries in Europe; and, outrageous violations of human rights in EU countries. None of this is professionally and publicly commented on the global level. When we ask why there is no assessment of certain events, we are told that all these problems are being resolved on a bilateral basis: they hold discussions, offer information and try to influence these countries so that the latter rectify the situation. So why then in Russia’s case, as well as in the cases of some other countries, this doesn’t happen in a bilateral format, but rather through endless threads in social network accounts before eventually ending up in front of a microphone? There is no answer to this question, although it is obvious.

To reiterate, there has been no public response to a whole “bouquet” of problems in the EU, even over the past month. Meanwhile, there is excessive zeal in commenting on the human rights situation in our country. This happened, in particular, with regard to the actions of Russian law enforcement personnel during unauthorised protests in January and February of this year.

We expect the Commissioner to promptly correct the above-mentioned policies, which so far have been far from objective. And we are not alone. The entire world is watching whether international organisations can uphold their messianic role in the contemporary world or will they collapse under crackdowns and pressure, whether they remain impartial and independent and follow international law or become a “tool” in the hands of various states. There are many who are watching closely: regional actors and associations of countries. We will move forward in building up our relations with the Commissioner on a pragmatic basis, on condition that she rids herself of the selective and discriminatory line mentioned above. Such a lop-sided approach is a blow to all international organisations.

From the briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, Moscow, March 26, 2021