Russia is subject of debate and criticism at the Council of Europe

On Wednesday, the Council of Europe held a debate at the Parliamentary Assembly on the subject of increasing violence in the North Caucasus and deteriorating security for human rights defenders. Dick Marty, special rapporteur on the North Caucasus at the Council of Europe, stated that the aim of the debate was to express “solidarity to the people of the North Caucasus region, and commitment to those who defend human rights there.” Recently, the North Caucasus has become a particularly dangerous region for human rights activists, journalists, and government critics.
On July 15, gunmen kidnapped and killed Natalya Estemirova, a prominent human rights activist and researcher with Human Rights Center Memorial, and earlier this year Stanislav Markelov, an attorney who represented Chechen victims of abuse, was gunned down in Moscow. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, who visited the region last month, stated that “the situation in parts of the North Caucasus is not peaceful” and added that “there are serious human rights problems.”
Dick Marty also addressed Russia’s record on carrying out rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).  While the Russian government has paid out monetary compensations to the victims as mandated by the judgments, it has failed to implement the court’s decisions, which require investigating the cases of human right violations. Failure to bring those responsible to justice contributes to the ongoing cycle of violence according to Human Rights Watch, which published a report last week on Russia’s response to European Court judgments on cases from Chechnya. The report found that in the 33 researched cases that involved extrajudicial executions, torture, and disappearances in the North Caucasus, not a single person has been held accountable for the crimes, even in cases that named the perpetrators.

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Deadly militant attacks continue to terrorize region

Militants carried out a series of deadly attacks on authorities this week despite heightened security measures. On Saturday, gunmen killed a police sergeant in Chechnya. The attack came a day after Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed President of Chechnya, was shown on Russian television in military gear directing an operation against a group of militants in a mountainous region bordering Dagestan. Earlier last week, gunmen attacked a police post in Dagestan, injuring two police officers. Kadyrov stated that 8 militants had been killed in the operation and vowed to kill the remaining rebels in the republic by the end of the year. In previous years, similar pledges have gone unfulfilled.
In Kabardino-Balkaria, gunmen attacked a police patrol killing one and injuring three officers on Friday, adding more concerns about regional security. The gunmen who carried out the attack were later killed when authorities stormed the house where the militants were hiding.
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