“[...] Yet as we approach the 60th anniversary of the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, we see these hopes disappointed. The right to freedom of assembly is still not guaranteed, and the activities of independent non-governmental organizations are being thwarted. There can be no talk of an independent judiciary. Nothing has changed in the practice of ensuring that virtually all indictments result in conviction. [...]”
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Make sure the European Human Rights Convention is observed in the Russian Federation!
The Berlin Declaration was issued on the occasion of the exhibition “The Khodorkovsky Case – Images of Injustice” in the Mauermuseum [the Berlin Wall Museum] – the Museum House at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
Nearly 60 years ago – on 4 November 1950 – the European Human Rights Convention was signed in Rome. The state parties to the Convention recognized that the observance and development of human rights and basic freedoms form the foundation for justice and peace in the world.
When the division of Europe ended, the Russian Federation also joined the Council of Europe in 1996 and in 1998 ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, raising hopes that for the people of Russia this would usher in an era when the power of human rights would effectively counter the rule of those who hold the reins of power.
Yet as we approach the 60th anniversary of the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, we see these hopes disappointed. The right to freedom of assembly is still not guaranteed, and the activities of independent non-governmental organizations are being thwarted. There can be no talk of an independent judiciary. Nothing has changed in the practice of ensuring that virtually all indictments result in conviction.
We are very concerned that the second criminal trial against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, which is about to conclude, will end in the same way. Independent observers who have followed the trial since it began in March 2009 believe that the criminal charges against the defendants have never been properly investigated. Instead, the trial has come to symbolize the fact that even today, when an issue is in doubt, power always trumps justice in the Russian Federation.
The charges themselves appear to be obvious fabrications in the context of the defendants’ first conviction as well as the various proceedings against YUKOS for alleged tax evasion. The defence team have repeatedly faced obstructions that contradict the right to a fair trial enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There is an irreconcilable contradiction between the assurances of the Russian leadership that the courts have been independent and fair in conducting the trial and their continuous attempts to demonize and stigmatize Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the media as a Russian Al Capone.
When President Medvedev took office, he declared war on legal nihilism and government corruption in his country. We express our support for this endeavour and appeal to him:
- Make sure the European Convention on Human Rights is observed in your country!
- Ensure that an independent justice system and legal proceedings in which the right of defendants to a fair trial are safeguarded!
- Open an independent investigation into the complaints the defence lawyers of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev have been making since 2003 in relation to the initial and the current criminal proceedings against them!
Initial signatories of the Berlin Declaration
Amnesty International German Section
Marieluise Beck, Bundestag member
Breyten Breytenbach, author
Esther Dischereit, author
Christian Führer, former parish priest of the St. Nicolas Church in Leipzig (1980-2008)
Prof. Dr. Ines Geipel, writer
Ralph Herforth, actor
Alexandra Hildebrandt, Director of Mauermuseum - Museums Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
David Howard, writer
Gidon Kremer, musician
Markus Meckel, former Foreign Secretary and Bundestag member from 1990 – 2009, Memorial Deutschland e.V.
Peter Merseburger, journalist and writer
Herta Müller, novelist
Arvo Pärt, composer
Gemma Pörzgen, journalist
Katja Riemann, actress
Michail Ryklin, philosopher
Dirk Sager, journalist
Dr. Manfred Sapper, Editor-in-Chief of Osteuropa
Prof. Dr. Henning Schröder, co-publisher of Russlandanalysen
Wolfgang Templin, writer
Cyril Tuschi, film maker
Reinhold Vetter, writer
Volker Weichsel, staff writer, Osteuropa
Ernest Wichner, director of the Literaturhaus Berlin
Roger Willemsen, writer