A UN human rights body comfortably approved a motion on Friday to appoint a new independent expert to investigate alleged human rights violations in Russia, accusing Moscow of creating a “climate of fear” through repression and violence.
The Russian government was quick to make it clear that it would not cooperate with the expert.
Members voted 17 in favor, 6 against and 24 abstained. This is the first time in its 16 years that the Human Rights Council (HRC) has appointed a special rapporteur to examine the rights record of a country that holds a permanent seat on the Security Council.
“We want it to be clear today that we are not forgetting those who fight for freedom at home while (Russian President Vladimir) Putin represses the Russian people and carries out aggression abroad,” the British ambassador to the United Nations told Reuters. in Geneva, Simon Manley.
Nearly 50 countries tabled the motion, including Britain, all European Union countries except Hungary, as well as the United States, Ukraine, Japan and Colombia. China was among those who opposed it.
Moscow has enacted tougher laws this year to punish people who Moscow says discredit the military or spread false information, and has banned human rights groups such as Memorial, which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said it firmly rejected the resolution as containing false accusations, according to the Tass news agency.
“Russia … will ignore the special mechanism set up by the HRC and refuse to cooperate with it,” Tass quoted the ministry as saying.
The 47-member Council is deeply divided, with a growing chorus of countries led by Russia and China opposing any action against specific countries, which they say amounts to political meddling.
Friday’s victory comes as a relief to Western countries after Thursday’s historic defeat of a motion against China.