Russia must respect the rights of peaceful protesters
Thousands of protesters in Russia took to the streets last weekend to respond to the high profile arrest of political activist, Alexei Navalny.
The protests took place in cities all over the country, including in the capital, Moscow, where approximately 40,000 people turned out to support Navalny. However, these peaceful protesters were forcefully broken up with large numbers being detained by the Russian authorities. So far, around 3,500 people are said to have been arrested, the largest number of people detained due to protesting in Russia in recent years.
Furthermore, it seems that young people in particular are being targeted with warnings, threats and restrictions on their right to freedom of information and assembly. For example, protest related content has been disappearing from social media platforms in Russia. Roskomnadzor, a governmental executive body, has been responsible for enforcing the removal of social media posts that urged others to join the protests. Last known figures indicate that 38% of protest related posts have been deleted from TikTok, 50% deleted from YouTube, and 17% of posts on Instagram were also removed. There have also been reports that students of some universities, colleges, and schools faced the threat of expulsion and other measures to prevent them from joining the protests.
We strongly believe that the right to freedom of expression and assembly, including peaceful demonstrations without fear of retribution are cornerstones of a democratic society. Thus, the European Youth Forum calls for all peaceful protesters to be immediately released and for the democratic rights of all to be respected. We also call for an immediate end to the disproportionate measures taken by the Russian authorities against peaceful protesters.