Congressional Delegation to Russia Must Raise Human Rights Concerns, Meet with Civil Society
New York City—In response to reports that a group of Republican lawmakers planned to travel to Russia and meet with senior Russia officials, Human Rights First Senior Vice President for Policy Rob Berschinski made the following statement:
"Given President Trump’s praise for Vladimir Putin and criticism of America’s closest allies, it’s regrettable that the congressional delegation traveling to Russia this week represents only one of the United State’s two political parties. Defending America and its allies is, and should remain, a bipartisan concern.
Particularly in light of President Trump’s seemingly bottomless admiration for President Putin and other authoritarian leaders, and reports of a July summit between the two presidents, the delegation should use its visit to Moscow to send the strongest possible signal that Russia’s repression at home and meddling abroad will continue to be met with consequences.
In addition to raising Russia’s active efforts to undermine democratic institutions in the United States and Europe, its invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea, and its support for the Assad regime in Syria, members of the delegation should prioritize discussions concerning the Russian government’s continued suppression of non-governmental organizations and the political opposition, the persecution of gay men in Chechnya, the killings of journalists and politicians, and the cases of political prisoners held by Russian authorities. It is also essential that the delegation meet with NGOs, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition while in Russia."