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Russia: LGBT-Network and human rights lawyers branded 'foreign agents' is 'beyond shameful'

Reacting to the news that Russian authorities named LGBT-Network and five human rights lawyers from Komanda 29 ‘foreign agents’, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said:

“Beyond shameful, the justice ministry’s decision reveals that committed, principled lawyers defending the rights of people targeted in politically motivated cases and frontline LGBTI rights defenders are unwelcome and ‘foreign’ in Putin’s Russia.

“LGBT-Network has exposed heinous crimes against gay men in Chechnya and helped evacuate people at risk to safety where they can speak about these atrocities. Now LGBT-Network is, itself, a victim of the persecution that is being increasingly targeted at all human rights defenders – openly, viciously and cynically.

“The authorities cite the need to protect ‘national interests’ and resist ‘foreign influence’ in their incessant destruction of Russia’s civil society. But what’s really in the national interest is to protect, uphold and respect all human rights for everyone.

“These reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society organisations must stop, and the ‘foreign agents’ and ‘undesirable organisations’ laws must be repealed immediately.”

So-called ‘Foreign Agents’

On Monday, the Russian Ministry of Justice included the LGBT-Network and five lawyers from the recently dissolved human rights group, Komanda 29 (Team 29), including its founder Ivan Pavlov, a prominent lawyer, on the list of ‘foreign agents.’

Ivan Pavlov and his colleagues have courageously provided help to civil society and political activists and groups that have been targeted by the authorities, including Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

The Russian LGBT-Network is a prominent Russian group defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. They played a crucial role in the exposure of a brutal ‘anti-gay’ campaign in Chechnya during which dozens of men were abducted, tortured and several believed to have been killed for their real or perceived sexual orientation. The group also provided shelter for victims of homophobic attacks from Chechnya and elsewhere around the country, and helped with their relocation to safer locations within and outside Russia.

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