UK Foreign Affairs Committee Highlights Khodorkovsky Case In Human Rights Report

October 17, 2013

Today the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published their report into the Foreign Office’s human rights work in 2012.  The report follows the annual publication of the Foreign Office’s human rights and democracy report, and takes additional evidence from relevant stakeholders before making recommendations to the Government on how its work can be improved.

Back in June the Foreign Affairs Committee asked about Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s case when questioning the heads of both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and they agreed to come back to the Committee with answers to their questions. The report includes their supplementary evidence in which Amnesty International reiterates that they have considered Khodorkovsky to be a prisoner of conscience since May 2011 and call for him to be unconditionally released since his original sentence was served in October 2011. Human Rights Watch drew the Committee’s attention to several letters they have signed or published arguing that the case against Khodorkovsky was clearly politically motivated and flag his case as characteristic of the Kremlin’s determination to eliminate powerful political alternatives.

The Foreign Office Minister, Baroness Warsi, also confirmed that the Foreign Office had called for Khodorkovsky’s release in their human rights dialogue with Russia.

As one of the Foreign Office’s ‘countries of concern’, numerous references to Russia are made throughout the report, predominantly in terms of the deterioration in the climate for civil society groups and activists over the last year.  The laws increasing fines for protestors, the banning of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ and rules restricting the activities and overseas funding of NGOs are raised in particular.  In that respect, the Committee recommends that “the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi provide a platform for concerns about human rights in Russia to be voiced in a way which is difficult for the host country to brush aside”, but states that they “do not support a boycott”.

The report can be read in full HERE.

Pavel’s written evidence to the Committee can be read in  full HERE.