Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement on 9 December in response to the sentencing of the Russian civil rights activist Ildar Dadin by a Moscow court on 7 December:
With the sentencing of Ildar Dadin, an individual has been jailed for the first time in Russia for participating in unauthorised demonstrations. I am shocked by the excessively long sentence – provided for in the new Russian law on public assemblies – of three years’ imprisonment for peacefully expressing an opinion in public.
The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly guaranteed in the Russian constitution are being undermined by tougher laws and their enforcement. This gives me great cause for concern.
I call on the Russian Government to once more guarantee that critical voices are able to actively participate in the political opinion-forming process. It must be ensured that laws which restrict this process are in line with international human rights standards. As a member of the Council of Europe, Russia has undertaken to guarantee this.
The sentencing of Ildar Dadin was the first time that the Russian judiciary applied the restriction on the right of assembly introduced in 2014. Whereas violations of the right to demonstrate were previously treated as an administrative offence, a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment may now be handed down in the case of repeated infringements.
Dadin was found guilty of taking part in several unauthorised peaceful political demonstrations from autumn 2014 onwards, for each of which an administrative penalty had been imposed. He had been under house arrest since February 2015.