Press release

Russia: OSCE States Initiate Investigation into Human Rights Abuses in Chechnya

Freedom House supports the decision for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to use the Moscow Mechanism to hold Russia accountable for human rights abuses in Chechnya.


In response to the decision of 16 participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe(OSCE) to invoke the Moscow Mechanism and hold Russia accountable for ongoing human rights abuses in Chechnya, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Freedom House welcomes the decision of 16 countries, including the United States, to take a critical step to end impunity for heinous crimes in Chechnya, including attacks against Memorial and other human rights defenders and the mass detention, disappearance and torture of LGBTI people,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “At a time when authoritarian leaders seem to believe human rights violations at home and abroad will go unpunished, this strong response from the U.S. and its democratic allies clearly signals that human rights and democracy remain high on the international agenda. We hope the Russian Federation will cooperate in good faith with the fact-finding mission and hold perpetrators accountable.” 


On August 30, 15 OSCE participating States requested information from the Russian Federation related to crimes occurring in Chechnya against human rights defenders and gay men, and the status of the investigation by Russian authorities into these crimes. The Russian Federation failed to provide the information requested, leading to the November 1, 2018 decision of 16 states to invoke paragraph 12 of the 1991 Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, commonly known as the “Moscow Mechanism.” Invoking this mechanism triggers the establishment of an international fact-finding mission to investigate the crimes committed in  Chechnya and provide recommendations to the OSCE and its participating States. 

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018, and receives a democracy score of 6.61, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2018.