100 NGOs from around the world unite in effort to support beleaguered civil society in Russia
IPN Press release
LONDON, 14 July -- In the run-up to this weekend’s G8 meeting, 100 NGOs from around the world, including organisations in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, China and Venezuela, have issued a statement indicating their solidarity with Russian civil society in opposing the Russian government’s increasingly authoritarian behaviour.
The statement was initiated at an international conference in Vienna, Austria on July 1, 2006. Among the 12 UK signatories were International Policy Network, Policy Exchange, the Stockholm Network, Civitas, Social Affairs Unit, and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Dr. Andrei Illarionov, formerly chief economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was among the signatories. Dr. Illarionov said,
“This petition is a very important signal from the international community in support of Russian civil society, which is currently subject to harsh attacks from the Russian authorities. Those attacks are destroying real democracy and free markets and are rapidly transforming the country into an oil- and gas-based authoritarian sultanate.”
Illarionov resigned his position in December of last year and is currently president of the Institute of Economic Analysis in Moscow.
Julian Morris, Director of International Policy Network, one of the signatory NGOs, said,
“Civil society plays a vital role in strengthening and reinforcing the fundamental institutions that we hold dear – especially the rule of law, freedom of association and free speech. The Russian Government has been increasingly hostile to civil society, imposing harsh restrictions on freedom of association and freedom of speech, and has undermined the rule of law through arbitrary expropriation of assets and other discriminatory acts.”
Other NGOs and individuals are invited to endorse the statement. The statement, copied below, and list of signatories can be found at www.freespeechrussia.org
Statement of Concern for Freedom in Russia
We, representatives of pro-freedom think-tanks and movements from many nations, united by common principles and values, declare our steadfast support for the individual rights of the people of Russia to associate without harassment by the authorities, and to exercise the rights of freedom of expression to which all human beings are by nature entitled. In particular, we declare our solidarity with the NGOs of Russia, which are struggling under the burden of bureaucratic harassment and efforts by the authorities to suppress the independent forces of civil society. We call on the Russian government to cease its efforts to isolate the people of Russia from the wider international civil society and that it cease its efforts to subject them to authoritarian rule.
“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.”--David Hume