Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Russia gets unusually courageous in criticizing European Union

The situation with human rights protection in the EU is far from being perfect, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in the report "On the situation with human rights in the European Union." The report first analyzes general trends in the EU, and then proceeds to problems in separate countries. One can only welcome the unexpected courage of Russia's Foreign Ministry in the criticism of Brussels.

"Steady rise of xenophobia, racism, aggressive nationalism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism remain one of the most serious problems," the document said. The report is published on the official website of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation:

For example, in Poland, more than 600 offenses were reported in 2011-2012. In Germany, they failed to ban the National Democratic Party (NPD), which represents Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony lands in the parliament. Moreover, a number of serious shortcomings were revealed in the work of German secret services in this direction.

In France and the UK, one incident of anti-Semitism is reported every day, in Germany - three. In the Netherlands and Belgium, anti-immigrant sites were made, mainly of anti-Islamic orientation. Discrimination of Roma is commonplace in the EU Member States. According to the EU agency for fundamental human rights, the rights of the Roma are violated in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France just as they are violated in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. About a half of the Roma population live there in homes that do not meet basic sanitary requirements. Only 15 percent of young Roma have complete secondary or higher education. Violence against Roma is used widely.

The line of the Lithuanian authorities to falsify historical events creates fertile grounds for manifestations of nationalism and neo-Nazism. They equalize Nazi and Soviet regimes, glorify Nazi collaborators and members of nationalist underground movements.

On October 10, 2012, in the village of Shvekshna, the Silute district, a monument was erected to "forest brothers," that showed active resistance to anti-Hitler coalition troops and were guilty in the deaths of thousands of civilians, the above-mentioned report said.

Further, the report notes that the number of gross violations of the rights of minorities, refugees and migrants has increased in the European Union too. For example, German law contains significant restrictions for those applying for official refugee status. The law seriously limits their freedom of movement. Waiting for refugee status, people are forced to exist on a meager allowance. They can hardly access any professional activity. Human trafficking prospers. The total number of victims of human trafficking in the European Union exceeds 880,000 people.

Russian-speaking residents of Finland are one of the groups that suffer from discrimination most. The report says that the discriminatory course of the Latvian authorities the Russian minority in the country remains virtually unchanged.

"Aliens" are deprived of such fundamental rights as the right to elect and be elected to state and municipal authorities, to take part in military and civil service, to act as judges, prosecutors, to establish political parties. Transactions to buy land and real estate for "non-citizens" are allowed only with the consent of municipal authorities. According to human rights organizations of Latvia, there are 79 differences in the rights of citizens and "aliens".

Issues of inadequate protection of children's rights, gender inequality, abuse of authority by police, violations of prisoners' rights remain very serious in Europe, the report said. For example, the work of women in Belgium is paid 22 percent lower than the work of men, and the gap in the amount of bonuses for male and female employees reaches 42 percent. According to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, in the UK, the rights of about 6,000 prisoners are violated - it goes about those, who remain in penitentiary institutions without fixed terms of imprisonment.

However, there is no clarity about the prospects for their release. The acts, similar to those committed by Russian infamous punk band Pussy Riot, are severely suppressed in Germany, despite "freedom of expression." Such was the case in a cathedral in Cologne. The participants of the  "performance" were thrown out of the cathedral, but the incident received no coverage in the media. According to the International Labour Organization, about 80,000 children are involved in illegal businesses in Romania, including drug trafficking and prostitution.

In 2013, there was evidence revealed proving systematic and massive violations of privacy, as well as attempts on freedom of speech and the media in connection with revelations from Edward Snowden. However, nothing has been done in this connection, except for the intention to "have a serious discussion" with the United States. The intention was expressed in October 2013, but things remain where they were.

The EU wants other countries to adopt alien views on homosexuality and gay marriage. The EU wants other countries to take such views as a norm of life and some natural social phenomenon worthy of support on the state level, the report said. The EU does not notice such violations if they take place inside the European Union. A human rights report said, for example, that 80 percent of Europeans, who suffered from violence in connection with their sexual orientation, do not report that to police, fearing homophobia in public institutions.

It should be noted that such a bold report from the Russian Foreign Ministry looks somewhat unusual prior to the Olympic Games in Sochi.

"It is necessary to consider the background, against which the report was published. Discussions on these issues between the EU and Russia were intense and conceptual," Andrei Kortunov, CEO of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs told Pravda.Ru. "The EU calls for sanctions against Russia in connection with recent legislative acts prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality. Against this background, Russia expresses its position in a tougher way. This position is not only of the Foreign Ministry. The president and the State Duma voiced the same position as well. So I was not surprised that the report contained tough formulations."

Let's go back to the report. The state of affairs with corruption in the European Union leaves much to be desired as well. For example, according to report "Money, politics, power: Corruption risks in Europe" that was released in June 2012 by non-governmental organization Transparency International, none of the investigated EU countries (23 out of 27 EU Member States) had an impeccable reputation in the field of anti-corruption. The report pointed out the absence of codes of conduct for parliamentarians in practically all countries, as well as the absence of requirements of the mandatory public disclosure of their tax returns. In 20 countries, the report pointed out serious barriers for citizens to access information on legislative initiatives.

Germany has yet to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption from December 9, 2003, as German laws in this area do not meet the standards of the Convention. Thus, Bundestag officials have a right to accept commission from business representatives for lobbying their interests.

Against this background, it becomes obvious that the current system of fundamental rights and freedoms in the EU is defective, the report states. There are no mechanisms to monitor the situation. All this remains in stark contrast to aspirations of the European Union to act as a role model and often the "supreme arbiter" when it comes to human rights and democratic freedoms, the report concludes.

It is regrettable that the report has not reached Western audiences. One has to admit that "our propaganda is not always effective, we do not always reach the audiences, for which we would like to work," Andrei Kortunov told Pravda.Ru.

Lyuba Lulko


Read the original in Russian