EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2015

Human rights and governance

3 - Rule of law and human rights in Russia

Grade: C-
Unity 4/5
Resources 2/5
Outcome 1/10
Total 7/20
Scorecard 2012: C- (7/20)
Scorecard 2013: C+ (9/20)
Scorecard 2014: C (8/20)

The human rights situation in Russia did not improve, instead reaching a few new lows. The EU lacks the means to influence the situation. 

Amid an overall atmosphere of xenophobia and suspicion, the human rights situation in Russia continued to deteriorate. The new development in 2014 was the “export” of abuses to foreign territory with foreign citizens. The bleakest spot in this regard was Russian-occupied Crimea, where the Crimean Tatar population in particular has been subjected to many types of harassment, up to and including disappearances and torture. Russia’s obligation as an occupying power is to ensure public law and order, which Moscow is clearly failing to do.

In another worrying development, Russia has resumed the practice of kidnapping foreign citizens on foreign territory. Ukrainian pilot Natalia Savchenko and Estonian police officer Eston Kohver were kidnapped from their countries and are being held in Moscow jails under different pretexts. Savchenko has been subjected to involuntary psychiatric treatment.

Russia’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine has resulted in the mistreatment of Russian servicemen. Many Russians who died in Ukraine during the August offensive were later buried in unmarked graves, with their death certificates falsified to indicate a different location and manner of death. In an unusual and brave display of dissent, some such cases were made public by the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council in August. But in many cases, the relatives of the dead were coerced into remaining silent.

The EU’s influence on the human rights situation in Russia has been negligible for years and the official “dialogue” has yielded meagre results. The invasion of Ukraine has diverted some attention from the issue and the disruption of trade and diplomatic links has now stripped the EU of the little leverage that it possessed.