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Russia Making a Mockery of Human Rights


The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry has published a report on the human rights situation in various countries. The starting point of the report is one of double standards: The report only focuses on human rights in countries, with which Russia is looking for discord.

The report devotes several pages to Finland. It seems that Moscow regards Finland as a similar target for pressure and part of its “near abroad” as the Baltic States. The report directs accusations against Finland using the same sort of demagoguery as against the Baltic States.

The Russian report repeats remarks contained in UN reports regarding shortcomings in the human rights situation in Finland, which are something that we have an obligation to rectify. This is, however, just an excuse for a campaign directed against Finland that is using cross-border child custody disputes as an instrument of foreign policy.

A hate group calling itself the “Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee” has long been provoking child custody disputes and used them in its campaign against Finland. The group’s mendacious claims have received ample attention in Russia’s state-run media, which take their cue from the Kremlin.

Referring to Moscow’s report, the leader of the pack of provocateurs, Johan Bäckman, called Finland the “worst offender of human rights in Europe.” The group’s operations must now be seen in a new light. The question arises, are the Russian authorities simply following in the steps of the group’s cynical campaigns or are they in the driving seat?

Moscow’s “human rights report” was published after its errand boys and agents had waged a long campaign of slander and threats against people in Finland working for human rights in Russia. The methods used in this campaign are well-known to those familiar with the KGB. The campaign is not only directed against individual civic activists, but presents a challenge to the Finnish society as a whole.

The Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, commented Moscow’s report by saying that Russia had now recognised that universal human rights were not internal affairs of states, and that each state was answerable to others for upholding human rights.

Finland now has a possibility to take a clear stand on the egregious human rights violations and lack of democracy in Russia: The massive election violations, lack of political pluralism and rule of law, continued state terrorism, increasing number of political prisoners, horrendous conditions in prison camps, systematic torture, and police abuses.

The long tradition of Finland’s foreign policy leadership of not calling a spade a spade when it comes to our eastern neighbour is not conducive to our national security. Moreover, the excessive caution sends the wrong signal to those fighting for a life worth living in Russia. It seems Finnish public opinion has understood better than our authorities what is the significance of openness and dignity in international relations.

We call on the Finnish government to follow a more independent policy in regard to Russia’s human rights situation, which is a question that has a direct impact on the security of Finland and Europe as a whole.

Helsinki, 18 January 2012

Oksana Chelysheva
Board Member
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum

Olga Ignatieva-Vanhanen
Board Member
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum

Jukka Mallinen
writer, translator

Antti-Pekka Mustonen
Chairman
Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee

Kerkko Paananen
Chairman
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum

Ville Ropponen
journalist, writer

Mikael Storsjö
Board Member
Finnish-Russian Civic Forum


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