Mikhail Fedotov, Head of the Human Rights Advisory Council to President Putin and Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, opened the discussion. On restrictions on the internet he said "confiscating a site is like "confiscating a cloud in the sky". The internet remains the communication medium of choice for independent media and human rights activists in Russia. The audience then discussed diverse freedom of expression issues, such as anti-corruption measures for journalists and the need for journalists to be trained in court procedures, especially in light of the new legislation regulating Internet in Russia. The group also discussed the need for donors to support legal actions in Russia in front of the domestic courts.
IREX Europe held the round-table on Freedom of Speech on the Internet in Russia as a side event to the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum at the Hague in the Netherlands, where invited experts and members of the Forum discussed increasing restrictions on freedom of the Internet in Russia.
The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is an open platform aimed at promoting cooperation between civil society in Russia and the European Union. Their Annual General Assembly brought together more than 100 EU and Russian civil society actors to the Hague from October 5th-7th to discuss diverse human rights issues.
IREX Europe’s roundtable statement and concluding recommendations for media, NGOs, and donors are available here:
Presentation of the General Assembly’s Public Statement to official representatives: Mikhail Fedotov – Head of the Human Rights Advisory Council to President Putin and Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Aymeric Dupont – Russian Division, European External Action Service, Daphne Bergsma – Director Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
Members of the Forum vote on Steering Committee composition
More than 100 civil society actors gathered in The Hague for the 4th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. At the meeting, participants assessed the activities of the Forum since the St. Petersburg Assembly in October 2012, announced the creation of two new Working Groups on Civil Education and Historical Memory, elected a new Steering Committee, discussed the Forum’s future structure and short- and medium-term strategies. Overall, the Assembly addressed the recent EU-Russia dynamics and concentrated on relevant issues both for EU and Russian civil society.
IREX Europe as a new member organization of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum joined the working Group on Human Rights and Rule of Law. The working group has signaled the following priority issues for civil society in Russia and the EU for the next 18 months:
Migration, Racism and Intolerance
The European Court of Human Rights and domestic implementation of its decisions
The law on foreign agents and its effect on civil society