Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
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«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Activists from all over the world discuss the prospects of civil society in Montreal

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On September 10-12, 2011 the World Assembly "Civil society and global issues: improving situation" took place in Montreal (Canada). It is annually held under the aegis of CIVICUS – the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. There were several subject lines that grouped around all sessions of the Assembly: "Civil society and democratic space", "Connections between people via technology", "Development effectiveness" and "Climate justice".

The event was attended by several hundred civic activists from all continents. Konstantin Baranov, the Program Coordinator at International Youth Human Rights Movement, took active part in the Assembly. He was invited to the event primarily as a representative of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus.

Along with the representatives of other countries, where there is a crisis situation in the field of human rights, Konstantin spoke to one of the plenary sessions with a brief report on the situation with human rights in Belarus. Difficult as it is, the situation deteriorated even more after the presidential elections of December 19, 2010, in particular, the pressure from the government on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists has become systematic. In response to the worsening situation more than 40 non-governmental organizations and groups of countries in the OSCE region established a coalition - the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus. Konstantin talked briefly on the work of the Committee and its organs, and also drew the attention of the Assembly at one of the recent cases of persecution of human rights defenders in Belarus - the arrest of the President of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Ales Bialatski on charges of nonpayment of taxes on grants, which stipulates up to 7 years in prison. CIVICUS initiated signing a petition by the Assembly calling to release Ales Bialatski.

Within the workshop "Building a network cooperation in hostile political situations", Konstantin talked about the experience of the Youth Human Rights Movement, which emerged and develops as an international network; YHRM also gives priority to supporting and developing other networks and communities in the NIS region, such as civic engagement network "Eurasia IDEA» and the International Civil Initiative for the OSCE (ICI OSCE). The human rights activist emphasized the importance of network cooperation between civil society organizations and activists at the regional level (not only at the national and global levels) and outlined the main benefits and problems of creating such networks.

On September 12, the regional meeting of NGOs took place in Montreal. An individual session for the participants form Europe and Eurasia was held within this meeting. The participants paid special attention to the problematic issues of the Eurasian region, outlining recommendations for the development of cooperation and solidarity, as well as opportunities for cooperation with international civic organizations, including human rights organizations in Europe.

At the final session of the Assembly Konstantin was also asked to summarize the discussions of the block "Civil society and democratic space". In his speech he stressed that the space for civil society shrinks around the world; and it requires new responses from activists, which should include the strengthening of the existing international mechanisms and creation of new ones, consolidation and mutual support, broader involvement of the public and the use of new technologies.

"Unfortunately, our region was poorly presented at the Assembly. I am convinced that the problems faced by human rights defenders and civic activists in the NIS deserve more attention of the world community. However, to achieve this, the representatives of civil society in our countries should be more concerned with the global agenda and cooperation on a broader international level, including participation in such events. I hope that the work in our region, which CIVICUS began several years ago as part of the network "Eurasia IDEA», will continue and it will help non-governmental organizations in the post-Soviet countries to better integrate into the global civil society "- says Konstantin Baranov.