A United Nations human rights body passed a motion on Friday to appoint a new independent expert on alleged human rights abuses in Russia. The Human Rights Council which passed the motion accused Moscow of creating a “climate of fear” through the use of repression and violence.
It is the first time that the body has set up a Special Rapporteur to probe the human rights record of one of the so-called ‘P5’ members which hold permanent seats and also include the USA, UK, France and China.
Shortly after the vote British Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva told Reuters that the vote would send a signal to those “Putin represses” in Russia and overseas.
He said;”We want it to be clear today that we didn’t forget those who struggle for freedom at home while Putin represses the Russian people and carries out oppression overseas.”
Almost 50 countries brought the motion including the UK all countries in the EU with the exception of Hungary along with the United States, Ukraine, Japan and Colombia.
Countries who opposed the motion included China, Venezuela, Cuba, Eritrea, Bolivia and Kazakhstan.
The move is a reaction to more authoritarian laws passed in Russia this year to punish people who according to Moscow discredit the armed forces or spread fake information offences that can land Russians with 15 year prison sentences.
There has also been a brutal response from law enforcement to anti war protests at the start of what the Kremlin terms it’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and more recently to dissent following the partial mobilisation of 300,000 additional troops.
Moscow has also closed Memorial, a human rights organisation founded in the Perestroika era to examine Stalinist era crimes which has found it increasingly difficult to work in Russia during the Putin era.
The 47 member council remains very divided however.
There are a growing number of countries led by Russia and China who oppose any form of action against specific countries citing political interference.
It comes after the council voted to reject an American call for a debate about alleged human rights abuses committed by China in Xinjiang province by 19 votes to 17.