The statement issued on 23 December 2020 by the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on media in Latvia is based on groundless propagandistic cliché-ridden accusations concerning Latvia’s domestic affairs.
We call on the State Duma of Russia to urgently address the problems with violations of human rights and freedoms in its own country. For instance, the State Duma could investigate, without further delay, the incident of the poisoning of Russian politician, Alexei Navalny, and the role of the Russian Federal Security Service in it.
A state that cannot control its own security services or, in the best traditions of the Stalinist era, uses them to eliminate its political opponents and suppress civil freedoms has neither moral nor the political or legal right to comment on domestic processes of democratic states. Besides, Russia also imposes restrictions on the freedom of its civil society on a regular basis by banning and censoring the media and the internet. The increasing crackdown on other public activists and human rights defenders as well as communications with this kind of content do not contribute to the improvement of either the situation in Russia, or Russia’s image internationally.
In Russia, the situation with freedom of speech and the security of journalists is especially critical. Russia ranks 149th among 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index for 2020 compiled by the Reporters Without Borders, while Latvia has traditionally been among the 25 countries around the globe with the highest scores on media independence and journalist security.
On the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, Russia ranks second in terms of violations against journalists registered in the Council of Europe’s member states. Over the past five years, 90 alerts have been received, including on 15 cases when journalists were detained or even killed. Several journalists arrested on the grounds of their professional activity are currently in detention.