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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in Russia on the 5th Anniversary of the Nemtsov Assassination

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 10:00am
2200 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the state of human rights in Russia five years after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov, a high-profile opposition leader, democracy advocate and fierce critic of corruption and abuse of power under Vladimir Putin, was shot to death on February 27, 2015, on a bridge near the Kremlin. His murder sent shock waves around the world and has become a rallying point for annual protest marches that attract thousands of people.

In the five years since the assassination, political power continues to be concentrated in the hands of President Putin, who won a fourth term in March 2018 in an election that excluded viable opposition candidates. According to the State Department’s most recent Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, human rights issues in Russia include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, pervasive torture, arbitrary or unjust arrest and detention, political prisoners, suppression of freedom of expression and media, violence against journalists,  restrictions on religious freedom, and widespread corruption at all levels of government. These practices occur throughout Russia and in territories it has occupied, including parts of Ukraine, and take place in a climate of impunity. Of the five states that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Russia is one of two that Freedom House has categorized as “not free.” The Russian economy is highly unequal. A 2018 Russian study found that a fifth of the population lived in poverty and another 36% had little or no disposable income.

Witnesses will provide a broad overview of the state of human rights in Russia today and offer recommendations to Congress for ways to advance protection of rights throughout the country.

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website and will also be available for viewing on Channel 59 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Co-Chair Smith). 

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I 

  • Melissa Hooper, Director, Foreign Policy Advocacy, Human Rights First
    Written testimony
  • Elizabeth K. Cassidy, Director of Research and Policy, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF
    Written testimony
  • Daniel Balson, Advocacy Director, Europe and Central Asia, Amnesty International USA
    Written testimony
  • Kate Watters, Executive Director, Crude Accountability
    Written testimony
  • Polina Sadovskaya, Program Director, Eurasia, PEN America
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record




116th Congress