Czech politicians should discuss unpopular topics with Vladimir Putin during his visit (press release)
Press release by civic associations Prague Watchdog, Tolerance a obcanska spolecnost, and NESEHNUTI.
(Prague, March 1, 2006) - Czech politicians should take advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to ask him, as have their counterparts in other European countries, other questions than those connected to oil and natural gas supplies.
President Vaclav Klaus, Premier Jiri Paroubek and Parliamentary Speakers Lubomir Zaoralek and Premysl Sobotka will be meeting today and tomorrow with a man who is suppressing freedom of speech and democracy in Russia and who is also directly responsible for the genocide of Chechen people.
The visit is taking place when attacks against civil society in Russia are gaining momentum and where several people, labeled political prisoners by renowned international human rights groups, were convicted or imprisoned (Khodorkovsky, Lebedyev, Murtazaliyeva, Dmitriyevsky and others).
This visit also coincides with the armed conflict underway in the Northern Caucasus with killings, torture, kidnappings, illegal arrests and enforced confessions being routine.
In 1999-2006, under the rule of Vladimir Putin, tens of thousands of people were killed in Chechnya and hundreds of thousands became refugees. Despite the use of brute force, the conflict has not been stopped. On the contrary, it has spilled over into neighboring republics, accompanied by terrorist acts and bloodshed like the Beslan school siege in September 2004, the investigation of which has yet to be completed.
The Russian authorities do not hesitate to use various tools to promote these policies, including misusing national and international law enforcement systems; suppressing political and civil opposition; staging undemocratic elections; and prosecuting journalists and activists who speak out against these practices. And Vladimir Putin himself does not hesitate to support and award the local leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a man whose subordinates commit gross violations of human rights even though they’re obligated to protect them.
It is in the interest of the Czech Republic and European Union that the Russian Federation is a democratic country. Therefore, we call on Czech politicians to promote this by having a truly open discussion with our Russian guest.
Tolerance a obcanska spolecnost
NESEHNUTÍ (NEzavisle Socialne EKologicke HNUTI)