January 3, 2016

Experts state deterioration of human rights situation in North-Caucasus in 2015

The situation in the regions of the North-Caucasian Federal District (NCFD) with human rights remains consistently grave, said the experts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot".
In 2015, the regions of Northern Caucasus saw continued pressure on human rights defenders, ecological activists, advocates; and new human rights violations, said Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, the director of the project for Northern Caucasus of the International Crisis Group (ICG).
"This year's novelty was an attempt to openly accuse rights defenders of anti-Russian activities," Ms Sokiryanskaya has added. Besides, as she said, further loss of independence of mass media may be noted.
In 2015, the authorities in Chechnya have moved from the collective responsibility of militants' relatives and pressure on rights defenders to public bullying of those who criticize Kadyrov.
Ms Sokiryanskaya has stressed that the region has no forces able to publicly disagree with the authorities' behaviour.
According to Vadim Karastelyov, the project coordinator of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), in 2016, we'll face increased pressure on human rights defenders and independent civil society organizations. He recalled that the principle of collective responsibility has always been used by authorities in Chechnya.
Over the past year, the ICG did not observe any gross forms of pressure on the ethnic groups, living in Northern Caucasus, said Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya. In her view, individual cases of ethnically-motivated violations have been most often caused by foreign policy events.
"Tension persisted in the Stavropol Territory and in the Prigorodny District of North Ossetia, but these are old hotbeds of tension," she said.
In his turn, Mr Karastelyov, who more than 15 years dealing with the problem of Meskhetian Turks, mentioned the increasing pressure on them in the context of aggravated Russian-Turkish relations.
Alexander Brod, a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) under Russian President and the head of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, has treated the interethnic relations in Northern Caucasus as tense.
He has noted that the authorities fail to take measures to improve the human rights situation, adding that the attack on the office of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) in Chechnya was a serious violation of human rights and freedoms.
On the positive side, Mr Brod mentioned the opening of the "Moscow Caucasian Club".
He also noted that at the sitting of the HRC, which was held with the participation of President Vladimir Putin, the issue was raised of poor investigation into crimes against journalists in the Caucasus.
Talking about last year's positive results in the sphere of human rights, Sokiryanskaya mentioned the verdict handed down on April 27 to a resident of Chechnya for the so-called "honour killing".
Rights defenders have treated the work of the Ministry for Northern Caucasus' Affairs as ineffective in 2015.

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