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Russian Federation

The Russian Federation (Russia) is physically the largest country in the world, covering 6.6 million square miles and 11 time zones over its 6,000-mile length.   Its population of about 141.7 million includes well over 100 ethnic groups, though the majority are ethnic Russians.  Once an underdeveloped, peasant society, Russia underwent an intense centrally-directed program of rapid industrialization and education under the Soviet regime.

As the successor to the Soviet Union, Russia traces its membership in the OSCE back to the organization’s roots in the Cold War and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was originally a Soviet bloc-led initiative.  The collapse of communism and Soviet rule in 1991 forced Russia into a difficult transition toward a democratic state and market-based economy. That transition continues today, though democracy has suffered a series of setbacks under the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Vladimir Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister for two decades. As a result, Russia has eliminated much of the space for civil society and free media, reduced access to justice, and imposed severe restraints on political pluralism. Additionally, Russia under Putin’s direction has become increasingly involved in the creation and dissemination of disinformation in attempts to create chaos abroad and undermine Western democratic institutions.

Russia is failing repeatedly to live up to its commitments of the 1975 Helsinki Act, such as respecting territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or use of force, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and fulfilling obligations under international law.

The Helsinki Commission is particularly concerned about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, including its illegal occupation of Crimea and its ongoing senseless war in eastern Ukraine, and is deeply disturbed by Russia’s culture of legal impunity that has resulted in unsolved murders of activists, whistleblowers, and opposition politicians such as Sergei Magnitsky and Boris Nemtsov. The Commission played a central role in drafting the 2012 Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions of Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s murder, as well as other human rights abuses and corruption.

Staff Contact: Rachel Bauman, policy advisor

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Hearings

Eyewitness Accounts: Ukrainian Children and Adult Ci...

Jan 31, 2024

  Russia’s abduction of thousands of Ukrainian children and adult civilians as part of its war on Ukraine calls for urgent U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and civilians and to hold Russia accountable for its war crimes. The Ukrainian government has documented close to 20,000 cases of children taken to Russia […]

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Press Releases

Hearing – Making Russia Pay: Sovereign Asset Confisc...

Nov 30, 2023

HEARING NOTICE – Making Russia Pay: Sovereign Asset Confiscation for Ukrainian Victory Wednesday, December 6th 2:00-3:30 PM Dirksen Senate Office Building 608 Stream live here: https://youtube.com/live/9X0Ip2wjogs In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its partners and allies have frozen an estimated $350 billion in Russian reserves held abroad. Members of Congress […]

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Hearings

Hamas’ Hostages, Putin’s Prisoners, and Freeing Inte...

Oct 25, 2023

The practice of seizing hostages and political prisoners, as well as actively terrorizing civilians is a constant displayed by Hamas in Israel and Russia’s war against Ukraine. To highlight issues related to the United States’ strategy to free hostages and political prisoners, last year the Commission’s Ranking Member Congressman Steve Cohen and Chairman Joe Wilson […]

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Hearings

Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner

Sep 20, 2023

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry […]

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Press Releases

Commissioners Call on Administration to Review Swiss...

Jul 28, 2023

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen requesting that the United States consider sanctioning three Swiss nationals, Vinzenz Schnell, Patrick Lamon, and Michael Lauber, under the U.S. Magnitsky Act. The […]

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Hearings

Rescuing Ukrainian Children and Women from Russia...

Jul 26, 2023

Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury […]

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Press Releases

HEARING: RESCUING UKRAINIAN CHILDREN AND WOMEN FROM ...

Jul 19, 2023

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rayburn House Building room 2200 Streaming here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n-NyI5xjt8 Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, […]

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Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chairman and Ranking Member Intr...

Jun 15, 2023

Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the bipartisan Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act in the House of Representatives, alongside Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10), Rep. Thomas Kean Jr. (NJ-21), Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09). The legislation has […]

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Press Releases

COMMISSIONERS CALL ON WHITE HOUSE TO TRANSFER ATACMS...

May 28, 2023

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) and Commissioner Representative Victoria Spartz (IN-05) sent a letter to President Biden, requesting he grants the transfer of MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine. […]

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Press Releases

CHAIRMAN WILSON LEADS BIPARTISAN DELEGATION TO GERMA...

May 12, 2023

WASHINGTON—From May 1st to May 7th, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) led a bipartisan U.S. delegation to Germany, Poland, and Ukraine to coordinate support for Ukraine and examine current wartime challenges. The delegation consulted with high-ranking government officials and civil society actors regarding ongoing military and humanitarian responses to the Russian invasion. Chairman […]

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Hearings

CHURCH, STATE, AND RUSSIA’S WAR ON UKRAINE

Apr 27, 2023

The Putin regime has long used the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to consolidate its power at home and abroad. Under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, the ROC has explicitly endorsed Russia’s war on Ukraine, even blessing weapons for the invasion. Churches under the mantle of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) had long been viewed […]

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Press Releases

BIPARTISAN UKRAINE VICTORY RESOLUTION INTRODUCED IN ...

Apr 26, 2023

WASHINGTON— Yesterday, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the Ukraine Victory Resolution in the House of Representatives. Commissioners Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), introduced the resolution in the Senate. The resolution affirms that it is the policy of […]

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