Testimony delivered before the UN Human Rights Council by Vladimir Kara-Murza
on behalf of United Nations Watch, Geneva, Switzerland, July 2, 2018.

Thank you, Mr. President.

My name is Vladimir Kara-Murza, I am a Russian democracy activist, and I am honored to address the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of UN Watch.

Last month marked 15 years since the arrest of Alexei Pichugin, an executive at Russia’s Yukos oil company. His arrest launched the campaign by Vladimir Putin’s government against Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky who dared to speak out against corruption and supportcivil society. Yukos was destroyed; its assets were transferred to a state-owned company; Mr. Khodorkovsky spent more than a decade in detention, designated by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.

Alexei Pichugin remains in prison to this day, now recognized by the Memorial Human Rights Center as the longest-serving of Russia’s 156 political prisoners. He is held in violation of two rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and of the protections against arbitrary detention provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Mr. Pichugin is incarcerated at the high-security Black Dolphin penal colony in the Urals. He is allowed to see his mother and children twice a year through a glass window. He has never seen his grandchildren.

Mr. President—will this Council raise its voice in support of Russia’s political prisoners and of the longest-serving of them all, Alexei Pichugin?

It is unacceptable to use the judicial system as a tool of political persecution. We hope that the international community stands in solidarity with those of us in Russia who want our country to adhere to its commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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