Today we are holding a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Fund for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad. The purpose of our meeting is to assess the Fund’s work in 2017-2018 and identify its goals for the next two years. I am counting on your active engagement and interest in achieving positive results during our meeting.
Providing all-round assistance and support to our compatriots are among the undeniable priorities of Russia's foreign policy. A month ago, the 6th World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad was held, where President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin spoke. He confirmed that we will resolutely defend the rights and interests of the representatives of Russian communities and use all existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for this. The Congress identified specific objectives for the future.
It is symbolic that today we are meeting on the day of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the day after tomorrow, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, which enshrines the basic provisions of the Universal Declaration, guaranteeing their implementation.
Unfortunately, the problems faced by our compatriots have not lessened. The Baltic countries still have stateless people, a totally shameful phenomenon. And in Ukraine, Russophobia has reached an unprecedented scale, actually becoming a part of state policy.
We are seriously concerned, among other things, by Ukrainian media reports on the Security Service of Ukraine in Poltava searching the apartment of Chairman of Ukraine’s Russkoye Sodruzhestvo (Russian Commonwealth) Association Sergey Provatorov, a member of the World Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots, on December 7. According to reports, he and his two colleagues are charged with actions allegedly aimed at no less than changing the state border of Ukraine, as well as public appeals and the distribution of materials calling for such actions. The fact that the search on December 7 was carried out on Provatorov’s birthday is particularly cynical. And today, when the whole world is celebrating International Human Rights Day, Provatorov and other compatriots have been summoned for questioning by the Security Service of Ukraine.
This latest shameful action by Ukraine was committed shortly after the completion of the World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad, where President Vladimir Putin decorated Sergey Provatorov with the Pushkin Medal. I will note that during the search, the medal and all certificates for it were seized by the Security Service of Ukraine.
Clearly, the Ukrainian authorities are continuing to clamp down on any manifestations of dissent. The purpose of such actions is clear – to suppress the freedom of speech and the fundamental right of every person to their language and their culture. In fact, the authorities are trying to root out Russian identity among the citizens of Ukraine by repressive means. I hope that these egregious facts will not go unnoticed by international human rights organisations, which will give a proper assessment.
I would also like to point out the ongoing lawlessness of the EU, whose representatives are dining with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin right now. During the meeting, according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, the EU members will discuss what other assistance, quote, “Ukraine needs to be rendered.”
We know that in a number of other states, pressure is being put on activists of compatriots’ associations. Human rights activists and journalists face various restrictions, harassment, and even arrest.
This discriminatory campaign against Russian and Russian-language media causes deep concern. It is a direct violation of the principle of freedom of speech, and an attempt to introduce censorship. It is also an attack on the Russian language and Russian-language education aimed at severing young compatriots from their historical homeland, and forcing them to forget their cultural and linguistic identity.
The West continues to employ double standards in the field of human rights, turning a blind eye to flagrant violations where it is politically expedient.
These and other difficulties that Russian communities face require energetic and comprehensive efforts. In this regard, the Fund for Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad remains one of the most important tools. Its activities have repeatedly been commended by the leadership of our country. Today we will discuss how to use the Fund’s potential, and the Centre for Legal Protection of Compatriots in Foreign Countries it opened, to ensure their legitimate rights and interests in full compliance with international law and certainly the laws of their countries of residence.