Appeal for freedom of speech and respect for minority rights in Russia
Having received the news of the murder of the outspoken Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya recently, we consider this another proof of the alarming situation in the Russian Federation. Anna Politkovskaya - yet another victim of struggle for freedom of speech in Russia and of struggle for truth about the conflict in Chechnya - was shot dead on the eve of her journey to Georgia, a country whose relations with the Russian Federation are a matter of grave concern with the current state of tensions in the region.
We were taken aback and dismayed by reports of actions directed against ethnic Georgians in Russia. These include accounts in the international media that Moscow police have asked schools to draw up lists of pupils with Georgian surnames as part of their search for illegal immigrants, and verifiable cases where Georgian businesses in Russia have been closed. Knowing the importance to poor families of remittance to Georgia, we are also concerned by reports of measures to block bank transfers.
We feel obliged to emphasize that disputes between governments are not grounds for actions against the civilian population. We would hope that the leadership of the Russian Federation will affirm the rights of ethnic minorities, refrain from hostile rhetoric and actions against Georgians , and ensure that our common democratic values and respectful relations between neighbours are upheld.
His Holiness the Dalailama
Frederik Willem de Klerk
Desmond Mpilo Tutu