Skip to main content

Press releases Special Procedures

First UN human rights expert on Russian Federation takes office

12 May 2023

GENEVA (12 May 2023) – Mariana Katzarova started work as the first UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation on 1 May 2023, following her appointment by the Human Rights Council.

“My mandate was created in response to the many challenges currently faced by the Russian people,” Katzarova said. “I hope that through my work, they will have a voice at the international level and that together we can find ways to ensure their rights are better upheld and enjoyed.”

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate was created by HRC Resolution 51/25 which cites concern over “the significant deterioration of the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, in particular the severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association...resulting in systematic crackdowns on civil society organizations”. The Human Rights Council also expressed its concern “at the reported mass arbitrary arrests, detentions and harassment of civil society representatives, the deterioration of the rule of law”, and “the mass forced shutdowns of civil society organizations and independent media outlets” among other restrictive measures.

“I am committed to reporting on and assessing the situation in Russia and I recognise the critical importance of the UN human rights system in seeking to improve the protection of human rights in the country,” Katzarova said.

“I hope the Russian Government authorities will extend their cooperation to my mandate and allow me to visit the country. The viewpoints of all stakeholders are important for a thorough assessment of the human rights situation in Russia.”

“The challenge is far greater than the capacity of one individual, so I am seeking the cooperation and assistance of others: organisations, institutions and individuals, both inside and outside the Russian Federation.”

The Special Rapporteur will present her report in September 2023 to the 54th session of the Human Rights Council and to the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in October 2023.

Ms. Mariana Katzarova (Bulgaria) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation by the UN Human Rights Council on 4 April 2023. She officially assumed her function on 1 May 2023. Ms. Katzarova led the UN Human Rights Council mandated examination of the human rights situation in Belarus, in 2021-22. During the first 2 years of the armed conflict in Ukraine (in 2014-16), she led the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission team in Donbas as head of the regional office in Eastern Ukraine. For a decade she headed the Amnesty International investigations of human rights in Russia and the two Chechnya conflicts. With the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, she focused on the war in Bosnia and the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Ms. Katzarova founded RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) in 2006 after working as a journalist and human rights investigator in the war zones of Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya. At RAW, she established the annual Anna Politkovskaya Award for women human rights defenders working in war and conflict zones. She was Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on combating human trafficking, and a senior advisor at the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page – Russian Federation

For additional information and media requests please contact Alina Grigoras ([email protected])

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) and Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

Concerned about the world we live in?
Then stand up for someone's rights today.
#Standup4humanrights and visit the website at