Letter of relatives of Kremlin’s prisoners and civic activists to EU and NATO leaders
June 20, 2017
Mr Donald Tusk
President of the European Council
Mr Antonio Tajani
President of the European Parliament
Mr Jean-Claude Junker
President of the European Commission
Ms Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the European Union
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy /
Vice-President of the European Commission
Mr Jens Stoltenberg
Secretary General of
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Mr Paolo Alli
President of NATO Parliamentary Assembly
19 June 2017
Open letter to the European Union and NATO officials regarding the anniversary of the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy
We, the relatives of political prisoners of the Kremlin, experts, civil society activists and human rights defenders, highly appreciating the position of the EU and NATO in counteracting the aggressive policy of Russia in the international arena, appeal to you.
This month marks the anniversary of a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, adopted by the European Council on 28 June 2016. In its strategic paper, the EU recorded non-recognition of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and promoted “human rights through dialogue and support, including in the most difficult cases” (quotation).
Among such cases are human rights violations in the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, unlawful arrests, detention and tortures of the Ukrainian citizens who opposed Russian occupation.
The NATO Warsaw Summit Communiqué, issued on 8-9 July 2016, states that “Russia bears full responsibility for the serious deterioration of the human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula”. The European Parliament in its resolution of 16 March 2017 mentioned the responsibility of the occupational authorities for the political persecutions, unlawful arrests, tortures of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists, violation of the right to freedom of expression and the press in Crimea.
While appreciating these approaches of the EU and NATO, we encourage you not only to continue the policy of sanctions against Russia for its actions in the occupied territories of Ukraine, and particularly in Crimea, but also strengthen the sanctions regime, the possibility of what has been stated in the G7 Communiqué on the results of the May 2017 G7 summit in Taormina. In our view, it is necessary to transform correct words from the EU and NATO papers into concrete actions. As the past years showed, just words are inefficient for the Kremlin. Being convinced that any action by the West would be limited only by verbal rhetoric, it continues to ratchet up repressions and ignores demands of the international organizations. Unfortunately, numerous statements of Western politicians about solving all the problems only through a dialogue with Russia and expediency to review / mitigate / cancel the sanctions are a wrong message to the Kremlin because it is perceived solely as a sign of weakness of the EU and NATO.
We, the relatives, colleagues, human rights defenders of the Kremlin’s political prisoners repressed by the Russian regime, urge you to “mainstream human rights”, as stated in the EU Global Strategy. Therefore, the further imposition of personal restrictive measures against the leadership of Russia responsible for egregious human rights violations, as well as sectoral sanctions, is necessary.
The EU has a strong non-military force that it has not involved yet. We encourage you to use its soft power to force the aggressor to peace and release of political prisoners in the occupied territories of Ukraine. In our view, sanctions should include:
– freezing of personal assets of the Kremlin kleptocracy, including Putin’s family members and his “circle of friends”, in the Western financial institutions;
– gradual replacement of Russian crude oil, petroleum products, gas and coal imports into the EU by those from the non-Russian sources;
– refusal of Russian projects of non-transit gas transportation systems like the Nord Stream 2 project by the EU and its member states.
Nothing is so expensive as life and freedom. Russia should feel it. We hope that the human rights and freedoms are still values for western politicians and dominate approach of “business as usual”. Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. For us Ukrainians whose family had been burnt by the flame of Russian aggression, NATO and the EU remain the last citadels in the fight against today’s Mordor – the repressive Russian regime.
On behalf of Association of the Relatives of the Kremlin’s Political Prisoners
Ihor Kotelyanets, Coordinator
On behalf of Crimean Tatar People
Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People
Centre for Civil Liberties
Olexandra Matviichuk, Head of Board
Crimean Human Rights Group
Olga Skrypnyk, Head of Board
Media Initiative for Human Rights
Maria Tomak, Coordinator
Institute of World Policy
Alyona Getmanchuk, Director
Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy
Natalya Belitser, Expert
Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”
Mykhailo Gonchar, President
Ukrainian Center for Independent Policy Research
Yulia Tyshchenko, Program Director
NATO-Ukraine Civic League
Serhiy Dzherdzh, Head
Alya Shandra, Managing Editor
“Black Sea Security” journal
Pavlo Lakiichuk, Assistant Managing Editor
March 20, 2019