This page was archived on October 2020.


Human rights and governance

15 - Rule of law and human rights in Russia

Grade: C-
Unity 3/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 2/10
Total 7/20
Scorecard 2010/11: C (8/20)

European hopes that Dmitry Medvedev’s rhetoric about openness would become a reality were dashed. Most member states avoided raising sensitive issues with Moscow.

Europeans are united around a soft consensus on the need to promote human rights and rule of law in relations with Russia but this is far from being a priority for either the EU or most member states, which prefer to focus on economic and security relations with Russia. Europeans hoped that Dmitry Medvedev would take concrete steps to make his rhetoric of openness a reality and make political modernisation and the rule of law more of a priority. But before and after parliamentary elections in December, there were clear human rights violations. Opposition parties were prevented from entering the election, rallies were broken up and leaders were detained. The OSCE received results from only two-thirds of polling stations, monitors were often turned away and NGOs estimated that as much as 25 percent of votes were falsified. Some state employees and students were pressured to vote for United Russia. During initial post-election demonstrations in Moscow some 1,000 people, including opposition leaders, were detained. But subsequent mass protests were both permitted and peaceful in Moscow and other major cities.  

However, apart from small assistance projects including a joint initiative with the Council of Europe to introduce a fully-fledged right to appeal in the judicial system, Europeans did little to support human rights or the rule of law in Russia in 2011. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy publicly expressed concerns about human rights and the rule of law in meetings with the Kremlin. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso also raised cases in a one-to-one meeting with Putin. However, other member states such as Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain avoided raising sensitive domestic issues in bilateral relations with Russia and did not even support an assertive posture by the EU institutions. Despite European Parliament resolutions calling for a visa and asset ban on Russian state officials involved in the murder of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, there was little to no follow-up. The Netherlands and the UK are the leaders on the Magnitsky case, while Germany is opposed to sanctions. Overall, the EU had little impact on human rights and the rule of law in Russia.

Member States
Leaders:  Netherlands -Sweden - United Kingdom
Slackers: Cyprus - France - Germany - Greece - Italy - Malta - Portugal - Spain