Posted 2007/9/14

Vienna: United States leaves high level OSCE meeting in protest at exclusion of Russian Chechen Friendship Society

On 13 September 2007, at the first session of the OSCE High-Level Meeting on Victims of Terrorism, the USA delegation left the meeting in protest at the decision not to allow the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society to register for the conference.

Text of statement by Russian Chechen Friendship Society

Posted 14/10/2007 When the High-Level meeting began its work, the USA delegation turned to the Spain in their capacity as OSCE Chair to inquire about reasons for the decision to refuse the RCFS's registration at the conference. According to the information that was received from a group of victims of terrorist acts attending the conference, the moderator of the first Mr. session explained that one of the OSCE members objected to the participation of this organization in the work of the conference. They proposed to discuss the issue. The national delegations of Canada, the UK, Portugal and Norway as well as victims of terrorist acts from Russia expressed their outrage and disappointment at the decision not to allow the RCFS to participate in the meeting.

Vladimir Titorenko, a representative of the MFA of the Russian Federation, made a statement after that. He stated that the RCFS had been shut down in October 2006 on the basis of a court ruling for «their involvement into acts of extremism and terrorism». He further claimed that the banned organization was disseminating «interviews with such international terrorists as Maskhadov and Zakaev» on the internet.

Titorenko expressed his concern at the new registration of the organization in Finland. He also added that the Russian official delegation would leave the OSCE meeting if the RCFS was permitted to attend the OSCE events. The official delegation of Russia consists of Vladimir Titorenko (MFA), Irina Alyoshina (the General Prosecutor's office) and Anton Varfolomeev (the MFA).

The Spanish representative stated that they would postpone considering this issue.

The US political officer at the OSCE Chris Sybilla contacted the deputy chair of the RCFS Oksana Chelysheva by phone and sent the opening statements of the USA delegation for the morning session. It is a formal protest addressed to Spain as the OSCE chair in regard to the refusal to register the RCFS at the meeting. It states, “The United States learned this morning that a reputable NGO, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, was not allowed to register and participate in today’s conference. We have fought hard for the right of peaceful NGO’s to participate in such meetings. For this reason we are outraged and greatly disappointed by this decision and hereby lodge a formal protest. This decision can in no way be viewed as a precedent for the HDIM or other conferences”. After delivering this statement, the OSCE delegation left the meeting hall at the Hofburg palace.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society is an interregional public association that was registered in Nizhniy Novgorod in 2000. After its closure with the ruling of the Supreme Court under the Law on Counteracting Extremism, it was registered as a Finnish legal entity. The most eminent human rights organizations have made numerous statements on the political background of the closure of the RCFS. They have also pointed out that it is part of the massive campaign aimed at suppressing civil society in Russia. The appeal on the closure of the RCFS is pending consideration at the European Court of Human Rights.