Amnesty International has cautiously welcomed a resolution by Russia’s Supreme Court to provide guidance for administrative cases concerning freedom of assembly, warning that it will mean “nothing” unless it is effectively implemented.
“This long-awaited resolution will hopefully provide some much-needed protections to peaceful protesters in Russia – especially the provisions aimed at reducing their arrests and administrative detentions,” the London-based human rights watchdog said on June 27.
In a statement, Amnesty’s Russia researcher Anastasia Kovalevskaya called the resolution a “half-measure,” saying that “comprehensive and meticulous work is needed to bring Russian legislation on public gatherings into compliance with international human rights law and standards.”
On June 26, the Supreme Court passed the resolution to provide guidance to lower courts hearing cases related to public assemblies.
Amnesty said it includes “several progressive recommendations,” such as by reducing the courts’ ability to impose administrative detention to only extraordinary cases.
The resolution states that the authorities’ requests to change the time and venue of protests should be realistic and the alternative time and venue should accommodate achieving their legitimate aim.
It also states that forcibly persuading employees to join protests may constitute a criminal offense.
Other points in the resolution remain “restrictive,” Amnesty said, such as the proposal that gatherings on private premises are subject to the authorities’ approval.
Over the past year and a half, Amnesty has documented “numerous cases” where people in Russia were denied their basic right to gather peacefully, Kovalevskaya said.
Russian authorities should “drop all restrictive policies on public gatherings and stop treating freedom of assembly as a privilege they can either give or deny to the Russian people,” she added.