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U.S. Helsinki Commission to Hold Briefing on Human Rights Defenders in Russia

WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) will hold a briefing entitled “Human Rights Defenders in Russia” on Thursday, September 27 at 10:00 a.m. in room 2212 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The briefing will focus on the efforts by Russian NGOs, human rights activists and legal experts to halt the retreat in the area of human rights and civil liberties that has taken place in Russia under the current government.

On September 13, Hastings issued a statement regretting the actions taken by the Spanish Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to not register the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society for the OSCE’s meeting on the Victims of Terrorism, which took place in Vienna, Austria earlier this month. Hastings remarked, “Spain has sent the wrong message to the international community and to NGOs worldwide. Let the facts speak for themselves: Spain gave into Russian strong-arm tactics barring a non-violent NGO from attending this meeting. NGOs on a daily basis put their lives on the line in dangerous parts of the world in an effort to promote human rights, economic development, and environmental protections. As a member of Congress with considerable experience with the OSCE, I must work to ensure that all non-violent NGOs have access to meetings such as this one.”

Speakers include:

Ms. Karinna Moskalenko, prominent Russian human rights attorney and head of the Russian Affiliate, Center of Assistance to International Protection

Mr. Neil Hicks, Director, Human Rights Defenders Program, Human Rights First

Ms. Maureen Greenwood-Basken, Advocacy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Amnesty International USA

Representatives of the government of the Russian Federation have been invited to take part in this briefing.
 

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