NB8 statement on Human Rights in Russia, delivered by FM Valtonen

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Elina Valtonen delivered the Nordic-Baltic statement at 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 21 September 2023. The statement was delivered as part of the Interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of Nordic and Baltic States: Estonia, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland. We thank the Special Rapporteur for her report. We strongly support the mandate’s continuation.  

The grim human rights situation in Russia, our neighbouring country, is of deep concern to us. For years, Russian authorities have systematically stripped people of their fundamental freedoms, including free expression and peaceful assembly.

Russia’s unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine has amplified internal repression.

The government brutally silences political opponents, human rights and democracy defenders, lawyers, journalists, independent media and others who dare to have differing opinions or make anti-war statements.

Indigenous Peoples and various minorities are repressed. The so-called anti-gay propaganda law violates the dignity and human rights of LGBTI-persons.

Repressive legislation, targeted intimidation and politically motivated, harsh sentences of critics have closed off any democratic space. The avenues for debate or protest are closed, also online.

We urge Russia to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and to abide by its international human rights obligations, including by releasing and rehabilitating all political prisoners.

Special Rapporteur, how can we support efforts to secure room for civic space?