Open Russia’s Human Rights Initiative consists of various sub-projects which together strive to uphold human rights in Russia while educating citizens about their civil rights and showing them that although they may feel that everything is stacked against them, justice is still obtainable. Our aim is to show Russian citizens that they should not be afraid to stand up to the authorities in fighting for their individual rights; whether it’s access to hot water and other basic necessities, their salary, their rights regarding their children or even basic freedom of speech issues in publicly expressing citizens’ concerns with the authorities. To cover all these areas our team is engaged in various different ventures from public seminars to regional legal aid support for citizens dealing with difficult situations, as well as assisting those who are standing up against the authorities
How do we help?
Open Russia’s Human Rights Team is offering seminars across the Russian regions in order to educate citizens on how to act in various different situations that concern their individual rights. With the current unpredictable situation in Russia and especially over the last 6 months, these seminars have become essential for the public – whether you are a student, business owner or a pensioner. The seminars are highly interactive and the public is introduced to key aspects of correct behaviour in vital situations, ranging from how to behave during arrest to appropriate conduct while petitioning in public. The seminars are free of charge and are designed to promote legal awareness among members of the public.
The team keeps an active profile on social media and publishes short memo-guides and distribute documents containing instructions on how to conduct oneself in various encounters with the authorities. By informing the public at large, Open Russia’s Human Rights Project is receiving a positive response and is helping to prevent a lot of unnecessary charges and prosecutions.
Red Button Emergency Assistance
The Team also offer a Red Button service, which was developed by Alexander Litreev in collaboration with Open Russia’s Human Rights Project and OVD-Info. The Red Button phone application is used to track and observe police detention of protesters at demonstrations across the country. Over 95,000 people have downloaded the app since its launch in April 2017. The app is free and can be downloaded onto any smart phone. It helps demonstrators to instantly inform the emergency assistance team on call, where and when they have been arrested. Once information is received by the team, they are able to send a lawyer to the detained protestor and undertake the necessary legal procedures. Since the launch of the Red Button service about 6,000 inquiries were processed by human rights defenders – 35% of those have been conducted by the Open Russia Human Rights team, which has provided legal aid and lawyers where necessary. Across a 6-month period over $130,000 was crowdfunded by the team in order to support their activity and pay for fines and lawyers’ fees. https://redbtn.info
Open Rights Project
The Open Rights Project offers legal support to citizens who have ended up in confrontation with state authorities and government bodies. Our team of regional legal aid coordinators locates, recruits and provides aid to regional lawyers in order to maximise the effectiveness of our legal aid assistance.
Most regional cases are civil cases, with citizens facing issues with their local housing and utilities, salaries being withheld by their employers, as well as other administrative issues and medical cases.
Currently we have representatives in 10 regions ranging from Kazan, Bashkortostan, St Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Tambov, Kemerovo, Kaliningrad, Tver, Tula and Ekaterinburg, and our team is actively recruiting lawyers to cover many more regions of Russia. Their work and effectiveness is constantly monitored by senior lawyers at our headquarters located in Moscow and London, and since the project started in September 2017, we have provided legal assistance in more than 250 different cases brought by citizens from 19 regions of Russia, who have received assistance from Open Rights lawyers. 30 of those cases were resolved with a positive outcome.
The European Court of Human Rights
Open Russia’s Human Rights Team have submitted five appeals to the European Court of Human Rights in connection to demonstrations which took place on several occasions throughout Russia in 2017. To date 3 of the cases have been processed to the next stage.