Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on 23 June on the last‑minute cancellation of his trip to Russia:
It is with regret that I have taken the decision to cancel at the last minute my trip to Moscow and Vladikavkaz in the Caucasus, which I had originally planned to embark on yesterday evening. I feel compelled to take this step as the Russian side has made it abundantly clear, both in writing and orally, that my visit to Russia is not welcome at the present time. It surprises me that the Russian Government has decided to take this step, which is likely to put our relations under additional strain in these difficult political times.
I am most concerned about the deterioration of the ability of Russian and international civil society to operate in the country. The law on “undesirable foreign organisations”, which was recently passed, is just one example of the Russian leadership’s growing tendency to stigmatise international cooperation as a threat and to further restrict it and isolate it.
Dialogue and mutual understanding between people is, especially in times of crisis, the key to relations in a spirit of trust between our countries in the future. I am extremely disappointed that this opportunity to engage in dialogue has been turned down, and can only hope that it will be possible to embark on this trip in the near future.
The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, had planned to meet representatives of the Russian executive, legislature and judiciary in Moscow and in Vladikavkaz in the Caucasus. Moreover, a wide range of meetings with Russian human rights representatives and civil society were scheduled, which were intended not least to affirm Germany’s support for the increasingly difficult work of critical civil society in Russia.