OSCE's Exclusion of Nongovernmental Organizations, a Violation of the Helsinki Principles

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was excluded from a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concerning “Victims of Terrorism” on 13 September 2007, at the behest of the Russian Federation.

According to information received by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), the exclusion was made possible by a decision of the current Spanish Chairmanship of the OSCE, despite an earlier agreement that NGO participation would follow the organization’s 1992 rules (Helsinki Principles). The United Stated Delegation to the OSCE left the meeting in protest, and several others expressed their opposition to the decision.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) is among the most persecuted civil society organizations in the Russian Federation. Critical of Russian policies in Chechnya while delivering vital humanitarian assistance to victims of the violence there, the organization was closed down in January 2007. The decision was an application of the new NGO law, and based on the “failure” of its chair, Stas Dmitrievsky, to resign from his positions within the RCFS after his conviction for an “extremist” crime and the failure of the RCFS to publicly denounce Dmitrievsky after his politically motivated conviction. The charges against him were brought after the RCFS published appeals by the late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and his envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, for a peaceful resolution of the Chechen conflict. Many other media have published such statements.

Is the Commission aware of the OSCE's chairmanship decision?

Was the Delegation of the European Commission to the International Organisation in Vienna present at that meeting?

What does the Commission intend to do to insert this topic in the next EU-Russia summit taking place in October 2007?

Will the Commission continue to raise, for example in the weekly OSCE

Permanent Council Meeting, the issue of the participation of NGOs in OSCE events along the existing modalities set out in the Helsinki 1992 event?