On the Criminalization of Civil Society Activists in the Russian Federation

In December last year, our network member Alexandra Koroleva, on behalf of the Russian NGO Ecodefense!, sent a technical report about the situation at the Curonian Spit World Heritage Site to you for consideration. Following the procedure under §174 of the Operational Guidelines, the World Heritage Centre transmitted the report to the relevant Russian authorities for review and comment.

In response, the director of the Curonian Spit National Park requested the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation to bring charges against Alexandra for “defamation” of the Russian Federation, in clear contradiction to the facts.

The attempt of a country to silence the voice of civil society is an attack against the human

right to free speech and expression of opinion, and the procedures guaranteed under §174 of the Operational Guidelines. This is a threat to the very core of what the WHW Network is all about: bringing information about World Heritage Sites to the attention of UNESCO.

The civil society participants of the WHW Forum have therefore adopted a resolution which we have sent to UNESCO and its Advisory Bodies with a request to ensure that civil society can exercise their human rights in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. We have sent similar letters to the Human Rights Committees of the European Parliament and the German Parliament as well as other interested bodies, and shared it with the media. Please feel free to post it on your websites and/or social media accounts.

Read the full resolution and the letter to UNESCO here.