Advisory Council (Russia)

On this page you will find statements and opinions by members of Rights in Russia's Advisory Council (Russia).

Liudmila Alekseeva: Kemerovo shouldn’t ask, but demand

posted 19 Apr 2018, 11:27 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Apr 2018, 11:28 ]

27 March 2018


Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, answers questions from journalists at Deutsche Welle 


Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Deutsche Welle


Deutsche Welle: There was a horrible tragedy in Kemerovo, dozens of people were victims of a fire in the Winter Cherry shopping mall, mainly children. What was your reaction to the events that unfolded in the city after this calamity?

Liudmila Alekseeva: I had the same reaction as the people of Kemerovo. I was struck and surprised that President Putin came to Kemerovo and assured people that everyone would be punished (honestly, that worries me a lot less right now), but didn’t go out and talk to people. What did he come for, to save Tuleev (governor of the Kemerovo Region Aman Tuleev) or to calm people? They treat us like cattle! Until we force them to treat us differently, that’s how they will treat us.

The people of Kemerovo organized a demonstration, perhaps the main motif of which was that people don’t believe the government and its figures on the number of deaths…

But who of us believes the government? Only they themselves. And it’s only when people break their glasses, as happened to that official in Volokolamsk, that they realise it… We want to help the government, but a government that respects us and cares about us. After all, we elect it.

From Kemerovo there are reports that the authorities are demanding that relatives of the dead sign non-disclosure agreements, and that ostensibly, according to unconfirmed information, smart phones are being taken away so that they don’t photograph what is happening. You have spent your entire life working for human rights. What do you think of this?

Well, what should I think of this, if I am a normal person in these abnormal conditions? Of course, I am upset. You have to fight it—and we will fight. There already are, in comparison with Soviet times, some posts in the government whose occupants are ready to exert their influence in our interests. They are the Human Rights Ombudsman and the Presidential Council for Human Rights whose chair is an advisor to the President. We too have a certain right to make our voice heard.

But a non-disclosure agreement in Russia is quite usual and totally legal in such situations.

That is how it always is with us—everything should just be quiet. You can curse the government however you want at home, but on the quiet, so that everything looks decent. But the government is not interested in our real opinion. And until they are interested in our opinion and our vote, since now they can just organize them, that’s how they will treat us.

So in the final analysis everything depends on us. To overcome our attitude that we are small people and nothing depends on us. In reality it is us that everything depends on! If we don’t allow them to treat us like this, to wipe their feet on us, then our president will become as democratic as your Chancellor in Germany, Angela Merkel. After all, Putin, in contrast to that idiot Brezhnev, is not a stupid person, and he could do it. But why should he?

What would you, as a human rights activist, advise the people of Kemerovo to do?

First, don’t leave the square. Second, don’t ask, but make demands of the government. In Kemerovo something happened that most easily upsets our people: it touched their children. This you cannot do. When our children suffer, we become tigers! That means, especially in such tragic moments when people better listen to us, we’ve got to push our idea that everything depends on us, that we shouldn’t humbly ask, but demand.

We have every right to do this. We earned the right in 1945, and we have continued to earn it by many deeds up to the present day. Vladimir Vladimirovich does not understand how lucky he has been with the people. How the people in the entire country behaved in our current tragic situation! These people are worthy of more respectful attention from their government.

Translated by John Tokolish


Lev Ponomarev: A statement by the parents of those accused in the so-called 'Network' case - "First they tortured the son, and now they are targeting the mother"

posted 18 Apr 2018, 12:13 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Apr 2018, 12:25 ]


12 April 2018


By Lev Ponomarev, leader of the For Human Rights movement and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group 


Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy



The 'Network' case fabricated by the FSB continues to unfold. In further developments, eight young people from Penza and St Petersburg have been charged with forming a terrorist group and planning acts of terrorism, and have been tortured by electric shock. They have also been taken into custody.

Recently, the relatives of those accused in the case came together to form the ‘Parents Network’ Committee. Just days later, they, too, came under pressure from the FSB, with the active participation of NTV.

There follows the first public statement by the ‘Parents Network’ in regard to the persecution of one of its members.

"First they tortured the son, and now they are targeting the mother"
Statement by the ‘Parents Network’ Committee


We, the representatives of the ‘Parents Network’ Committee of the relatives of antifascist detainees, are compelled to announce that a member of our group has been subjected to unwarranted and unlawful psychological coercion.

On 10 April, the investigator summoned Elena Bogatova, mother of the anti-fascist detainee Ilya Shakursky, and suggested that she give an interview to the TV company NTV, promising that it would, "go to [her son’s] credit at trial". He also gave her some direct instructions: she was to state at interview that Ilya really was part of the ‘Network’ organisation named by the FSB as a terrorist group and was not to mention, under any circumstances, that the lads had simply been meeting up to play Airsoft.

The camera crew arrived at the woman's home, accompanied by an FSB operative, and interviewed her until 11pm. Elena described what had happened in a telephone conversation with the head of the For Human Rights movement, Lev Ponomarev. She said that, aside from asking questions about which organisation Ilya Shakursky belonged to, the NTV officials were also interested in her dealings with human rights defenders. They pressed her to say that human rights defenders had promised her something and tried to pressure her into doing something.

"I was in this state where I was constantly in tears, swearing one moment and calming down the next. They were asking me leading questions, and I couldn’t get my bearings and answer them normally... I swore and I cried. I really don't know what they wrote down... They chose the worst parts."

Elena said that the lead investigator in Shakursky's case kept trying to convince her of her son's guilt:

"He was just sitting there saying, 'Your son is guilty. Your son is guilty...' He says all the evidence is against him... I was completely flummoxed. I know I can't be friendly to them because they were torturing my son but, on the other hand, I'm scared... I'm giving in to them again... I'm scared they'll put him away for no reason".

The investigator lets her see her son now and then. On this occasion, he did not allow a visit but, according to Elena, he promised that talking to NTV would, "go to Ilyusha's credit at trial".

Before leaving, the camera crew let the mother know that they would be calling her to clarify a few details. Elena intends to ask for her interview not to be broadcast. She contacted the ‘Parents Network’ to ask them to go public with the events described and to convey her outrage at what had happened. Elena also asked them to quote her as follows: "If something should happen to me or to Ilya, then the people who are holding my son, who are putting pressure on both him and me, will be to blame”.

If a film or clip should come out on NTV featuring Elena Bogatova, we, the members of the ‘Parents Network’, affirm that everything she says in the interview was obtained under duress using psychological torture at the hands of an FSB investigator, FSB operative and a group of citizens whom we refuse to call journalists.

We demand that the relatives of the young detainees be left alone and that no further efforts be made to influence them using threats and blackmail.


Translated by Lindsay Munford

Pavel Chikov: First conclusions following a court's approval of the immediate blocking of the Telegram messaging app in Russia

posted 17 Apr 2018, 12:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Apr 2018, 12:56 ]


13 April 2018


By Pavel Chikov, head of the Agora international human rights group, whose lawyers represent Telegram in court


Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Telegram]



Today the Taganka district court in Moscow, in the presence of the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor and the FSB, settled a number of issues:

1. It has proved that the organisation does not read messages, especially those using strong encryption.

2. It has shown that Telegram is the most secure messaging app.

3. It has driven hundreds of thousands of ordinary Russian users to learn about web proxies and VPN. The court has enabled a technological breakthrough, brining the means of accessing blocked sites from the geeky sidelines into the mainstream.

4. It has increased the number of those who oppose the current authorities by several million.

5. It has demonstrated over and over again that the judicial system only truly serves the interests of the authorities, and no longer cares about even a semblance of fundamental decency. The court has openly set itself in opposition to the public interest.

6. It has ensured that Russia is included among those countries that are inhumane, where people are executed, and where progress and freedom are attacked.

7. It has demonstrated the quality of Russian justice and the intentions of the country's political regime to all global Internet services. It is impossible to reach any agreements or make any compromises in such circumstances.

Translated by Graham Jones

Liudmila Alekseeva: "Congratulations to Oleg Orlov on his 65th birthday"

posted 17 Apr 2018, 12:15 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Apr 2018, 12:43 ]

4 April 2018


By Liudmila Alekseeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group,  congratulates Oleg Orlov, board member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group prize, on his 65th birthday:

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group


Dear Oleg, 

I want to use the occasion of your birthday to express my very warmest wishes to you and the cause of your life – the Memorial Human Rights Centre. 

I have never said such words to you before as we always just talked business. I think that none of those whom you have supported and saved at difficult times in their lives knew when your birthday was. If we had known we would have showered you with warm words of gratitude, with emotional expressions of our respect. Nobody has counted how many people of this kind there are, and for that reason allow me to congratulate you, not just in my own name, but in the name of all those you have helped as well. Memorial's work is focussed on the defence of human rights in the parts of the country where they are most under threat. There have been such conflict zones in our country for many years now – it’s an ongoing phenomenon. 

You, Oleg, have worked a long time in extreme circumstances and are completely devoted to this work. You have chosen such a life for yourself – very hard, very dangerous. And the battle is eternal - you can only dream of peace! 

I congratulate you and express my deep admiration.

Liudmila Alekseeva

Translated by Frances Robson


Lev Ponomarev: Thank you for…not using electro-shockers!

posted 16 Apr 2018, 12:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Apr 2018, 12:51 ]


21 March 2018
 


By Lev Ponomarev, leader of the For Human Rights movement, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and deputy chair of the board of the Foundation for Prisoners’ Rights

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group  [original sourceEcho of Moscow] 



The St. Petersburg publication Fontanka reported today that, according to their information, “those FSB officers interrogated by the Investigative Committee confirmed that they had used shockers on Viktor Filinkov. He has been remanded in custody on charges of an attempted coup and participation in the secret anarchist community, “Network.” The interrogation of the FSB officers was based on Filinkov’s statement about torture to which he was allegedly subjected after being detained in Pulkovo. The FSB acknowledged that there were marks of electric shocks on Filinkov’s body, but explained that it had been necessary to use electro-shockers in the line of duty. The suspect allegedly resisted and attempted to escape, and nothing else but the electro-shockers could stop him.”

I have been detained on multiple occasions at public events. I have witnessed dozens, if not hundreds, of arrests. This is the first time I’ve seen the assertion that it was necessary to use an electro-shocker to detain someone. Usually two, three or five police officers are enough to hold the person being detained, even if they are strongly resisting. 

Photo (c) Lev Ponomarev

It’s obvious that the FSB is introducing new ways of work with protesters. Apparently, I ought to be thankful that it was the police who detained me in my time, and not members of the security services. All the justifications of the FSB officers are merely anecdotal and ridiculous. Readers are well enough acquainted with the published and accessible reports by the anti-fascists who have been detained to understand that the security services tortured them long and painfully with electric shocks to coerce them into confessing.

Viktor Filinkov’s testimony

Dmitry Pchelintsev’s testimony

Ilya Shakursky's testimony

Ilya Kapustin’s testimony

The much-publicised case about the uncovering of an alleged terrorist group has been discussed online and in the press for several months now. The Council of Human Rights Defenders of Russia issued a statement which was supported by cultural figures, academics and leaders of public opinion, such as Vladimir Pozner, Irina Prokhorova, Denis Dragunsky, Sergei Aleksashenko, Aleksandr Gelman, Dmitry Oreshkin, Olga Sedakova, Arina Borodina, Mark Urnov, and others. With this statement, we turned to the Prosecutor General, to the Federal Human Rights Ombudsperson, Tatiana Moskalkova, and the head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights and Civil Society, Mikhail Fedotov.

The first achievement of the human rights community, the Ombudsman and the Presidential Council on Human Rights and Civil Society in this case was that the FSB had to admit to using electro-shockers, which they cynically called a necessity, but which, letting us call things by their proper names, is, in fact, torture.

The next step is to achieve is that these “wonderful” people, that is, the entire investigation team, is taken off the case and made to face criminal charges. After today’s publications you can imagine what opportunities they have for increasing pressure on those being investigated. For example, Viktor Filinkov has already been transferred from the FSB detention facility in St. Petersburg to the pre-trial detention facility in the Leningrad Region, and threatened with being subjected to physical coercion at the new location.

In connection with this, human rights defenders again appealed to the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, so that the Prosecutor General’s Office, in the framework of its supervisory powers, should conduct a review of the case and identify the FSB officers involved in the torture of the detainees. We demand that, based on the results of the inspection, the investigation team dealing with the anti-fascists be taken off the case, that further investigation be conducted by a new federal investigation team, and a criminal case be instituted on the facts of torture.

I ask all concerned citizens to copy the text of the appeal, which is given below, and send it in our own name to Yury Chaika, via the e-mail address of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Text of the appeal

In many media it was predicted that after the presidential elections the authorities would begin to tighten the screws. Perhaps we are now witnessing a “testing of the waters” in this direction. It is extremely important to stop them in time. Therefore, I also ask you to distribute this post on social networks as much as you can and post information about your appeals to the Prosecutor General’s Office. It is imperative that this becomes a mass campaign.

Translated by Kate Goodby

Liudmila Alekseeva: "Everything depends on us"

posted 23 Mar 2018, 05:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Mar 2018, 06:12 ]


16 March 2018 




Source: Moscow Helsinki Group (original source: Vzglyad-info



Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group Liudmila Alekseeva intends to bring to the attention of President Vladimir Putin the fact that the deputy chair of Saratov Region Court, Viktor Zhuravlev, is taking the news agency Vzglyad-Info to court. Alekseeva talks about this in a short interview with Vzglyad-Info.

The conversation, which lasted about an hour, took place in Liudmila Mikhailovna’s apartment on the Old Arbat. The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group talked about how she sees the human rights movement, how conflicts with official bodies can be resolved, and the role of the courts in these conflicts. She also compared the effectiveness of the work of the former and current human rights ombudspersons. Liudmila Alekseeva is a "tuning fork" for civil society (so her friends and colleagues say) and is as active as always, standing up for the principles of human and civil rights.

Liudmila Mikhailovna, how do you assess the current situation of the human rights movement in Russia. What is the impact of the worsening in international relations?

The human rights movement is going through a difficult time. The number of human rights groups has significantly fallen, especially in the regions. First of all, it is a matter of funding. It was not right that our human rights organisations existed at the expense of foreign donors, such as the Soros Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and others.

Our human rights movement was born back in Soviet times. In the 1990s we began to develop very quickly, but there was just no money at all in the country. Foreign foundations became active. They helped us a great deal, more than they helped other civil society groups. Now there is money in the country, there are many wealthy people who are perfectly able to support human rights defenders, and if they did so our organisation could not be rebuked for existing on foreign money. But nothing of the kind has happened, because we aren’t used to it. They give money to the Bolshoi Theatre and other theatres, to orphanages, but human rights groups are not on the lists of recipients. And we didn’t work hard enough to try to get this money, to attract the attention of investors in our own country to the human rights movement. We were quite happy with foreign donors, although we were only getting relatively little.

When the law on foreign agents was adopted, I personally understood that this had nothing to do with politics. We were receiving two million dollars a year. I immediately telephoned the foundations that were supporting us and said that we would finish the work for which the money had already been received, but that they should not send any more money. I was the first to refuse foreign funding. Why? Because, knowing our political leaders as I do, I was convinced that all the same they would force us to refuse foreign funding, but first of all they would do all they could to humiliate us. I thought it was better to stop at once. Colleagues from well-respected organisations almost accused me of being a traitor, in other words they would be punished in all sorts of ways and I would get off scot free. But they should have used their heads! Of course we suffered – we had two million dollars a year. Now we have four million – but roubles. It’s a very big difference.

We are a prominent organisation. We receive all kinds of grants. But Moscow is not Russia. There are many regions. I set myself the task of making sure we did not carry out a single project on our own, only in collaboration with regional groups. In a project about prisons we chose to work with organisations that had been working on this issue. I don’t mean in any sense they were branches of our organisation. These are independent groups. We paid for them to have office space, stationery and so on, and we were able to pay one or two salaries for those who were gathering material and writing about it. We shared our grants with them. This was a very good way to work, because if it was good working with a particular organisation, we could work with them on the next project. If it didn’t turn out well, then we would look for other partners.

How would you assess the work of the Presidential Human Rights Council and the advisory council of the Human Rights Ombudsperson? Do such institutions assist the development of civil society?

We fought for a number of years to have human rights ombudspersons. Now we also have them in the regions. Some of them are nothing more than OK, but others are quite good. It’s the same with the public chambers. I am on the public council of the Internal Affairs Ministry. And you know, it does its work, just like the Human Rights Council headed by Fedotov (Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council for Human Rights – Vzglyad-info). They are doing certain things. As for the human rights ombudspersons, еach one is more effective than the previous one. They chose Vladimir Lukin, who was not a bad person, but he had no influence. Now they’ve chosen Tatyana Moskalkova. Lukin is my personal friend, but Moskalkova is more effective. She has the rank of general in the police force, so she can make other people in the security organs “stand to attention.” They consider her one of their own. I was very worried when they named her. It turns out that she isn’t bad at all. When I call her, she always answers. She speaks and she takes action. And what she says, she’s in a position to do. She does well. Lukin would promise, but it wouldn’t work out. I hope that the next ombudsperson will be able to make even the president “stand to attention.” (Laughs)

To resolve conflicts, human rights defenders often seek justice in the courts. But some think that the “arbitrators” are taking orders from government representatives, or are even their close relatives. What do you do in this situation? Where do you seek justice and achieve fairness?

You know, this is what I started working on 20 years go. Civil society must be strengthened. Citizens are respected, and their rights observed, in those states where civil society can stand up for its point of view. Many say, “We are little people and it doesn’t depend on us.” That is just stupid. Everything depends on us. It is only then that the government will pay attention to us. Then we will get justice in court. But you have to work to achieve it. Someday it will be like that. As my grandmother used to say, "While the grass grows, the horse starves.” There is no other way. I think that so far we’ve come about halfway. I cannot say that we have no civil society. We do. Look at that famous case with the doctors. They beat them off. (The Moscow hematologist Elena Misyurina, ostensibly because of a medical mistake, was sentenced on 22 January to two years in prison. The circumstances of the case and the sentence caused a wide public outcry and protests in the medical community. On 5 February Moscow City Court released Misyurina from a detention facility under her own recognizance.– Vzglyad-info). But figures in the theatre world haven't been able to stop the prosecution of Kirill Serebrennikov. When cases of both kinds can be won, then we will have a fully-fledged civil society. It all depends on us. When we begin to demand that government pays attention to us, it will pay attention to us. And your position, as Saratov journalists, is absolutely right. I will bring your situation to the attention of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. 

Translated by John Tokolish and Tatjana Duff

Boris Altshuler: Human Rights and the Run-Up to the Election – and Happy Women’s Day!

posted 19 Mar 2018, 10:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Mar 2018, 10:52 ]

8 March 2018


By Boris Altshuler, chairman of the board of Right of the Child, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, member of the Working Group on the implementation of the right of citizens to affordable housing at the Presidential Council for the development of civil society and human rights and the Ministry of Construction, Industry, Housing and Utilities 

Source: Ekho Moskvy 


“If I Were President”      


I’d like to start by wishing the wonderful women of Russia a happy Spring Festival and Women’s Day. I also think that today – 10 days before the country’s presidential election – is a good opportunity to try and find answers to the questions which plague millions of Russian women: where can my children and I live? What will my children eat tomorrow? Where can I find medicine for them? Or, to put it a different way, what can we do to ensure that the country with the largest reserves of natural resources in the world turns the constitutional “fairy tale” about the rights of Russian citizens to housing, health care and decent living standards into reality?

We naturally welcome the fact that the electoral programmes of all the presidential candidates, including the unofficial “candidates”, prioritise the elimination of mass poverty in Russia, which is a problem felt most acutely by millions of families with children, and draw the entirely logical conclusion that this problem can only be solved if the necessary conditions are put in place for economic growth and an end to corruption. What is regrettable is that their efforts stop at these declarations – it would be a much more pleasant surprise to hear details of the most urgent legislative initiatives aimed at bringing about genuine change for the better which the candidates would initiate if they were elected President of the Russian Federation.

The primary task of human rights activists is to help specific individuals and specific families. In situations where this task is impossible – families with children that have been “lawfully” evicted out of their only home and left to live on the street, or families that are living in intolerable housing conditions or extreme poverty – we propose reforms to the system in order to overcome this “impossibility”. It is these proposals that I wish to share, in the faint hope that perhaps today they will find a receptive audience.

The roots of the problem can be summed up very briefly as follows: (1) it is impossible to overcome poverty in a country where industry has been driven into the ground and where people – including parents – cannot earn a living wage; (2) industry does not and cannot exist in sectors where monopolies and corruption suffocate entrepreneurship and a free competitive market, which would keep prices low, inter alia for the essentials of life such as food, housing and medication; (3) the cankers of corruption and monopoly cannot be eradicated without restoring order to the law enforcement bodies and the judicial system, which are currently part of the problem in many respects.

The latest Report by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) of Russia, dated 31 October 2017 and entitled “On the state of competition in the Russian Federation in 2016”, refers to the genuinely immense scale of cartel price fixing involving government authorities, with the level of involvement as high as 89% in a number of sectors of the state economy. The report also refers to a fundamental obstacle which stands in the way of efforts to combat this plague, and I quote; “The near-universal cartelisation of the Russian economy” (the FAS levels particular criticism at the construction and pharmaceutical sectors); “a unique feature of anti-competitive agreements in Russia is their reliance on the involvement of government authorities… these associations bear all the signs of organised criminal groups and organisations.” The report furthermore notes that Article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on “Restricting competition”, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, “is ineffective in practice”, and that “in 2016, law enforcement agencies uncovered only three cartels and instigated three criminal actions under Article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation; none were brought to court”. The report proposes that, “a different authority should assume jurisdiction for cases which fall under Article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation”. The gravity of the problem is acknowledged at the very highest echelons; more information on the anti-cartel order issued by the President of the Russian Federation on 5 August 2017 and how it is being ignored can be found in the article “Organised criminal groups and organisations are condemning Russians to poverty with the involvement of government authorities” (https://echo.msk.ru/blog/baltshuler/2158134-echo/). This article discusses the options for finding a rapid solution to the housing crisis, and the fact that monopolies and corruption represent the only obstacles to such a solution.

In countries with a healthy market economy, the full force of the state is harnessed to defend the market against monopolies and cartels, and it is a fundamental economic truth that countries which fail to do so quickly lose their free competitive markets. The New Russian state has unfortunately proved itself incapable of performing the vital task of defending competition over the entire 25 years of its existence.

So the state does nothing, and it is obviously impossible to overcome the poverty of the Russian people without bringing order to the law enforcement agencies. What is to be done?

Proposals:

1. In order to strengthen the fight against cartels, in principle:

- expand, by legislation, the powers of the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), giving it the right to carry out operational search activities (OSA) in the relevant sphere;

- in Article 151 of the RF Code of Criminal procedure, “Investigation”, to establish that cases under Article 178 of the RF Criminal Code, “Restricting Competition” are tried not only by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) but also by a number of other law enforcement agencies.

2. In order to overcome corruption (including the receipt of “kickbacks” from those involved in cartel price collusion) in the law enforcement agencies themselves, of which there are more than ten in the Russian Federation (the prosecutor’s office, the MIA, the Investigative Committee of Russia, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Justice, the Federal Protective Service, the Federal Penitentiary Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations…) and in the judiciary, following the precedent of countries worldwide (the list of measures is acknowledge to be incomplete):

- establish, by legislation, the right of the internal security service of each of the law enforcement agencies to implement a Targeted Preventative OSA upon its own staff and, most importantly, upon employees of other law enforcement agencies and other categories of officials as defined by law. This mutual interdepartmental control is the basic mechanism ensuring the exposure of corrupt acts (bribery, protection rackets, etc.) in law enforcement in many countries;

- implement the December 2009 proposal of former Minister of Internal Affairs, R. G. Nuraliev to subordinate the internal security service of the MIA exclusively to the central apparatus of the MIA, so that even the chiefs of the Moscow Police, other subjects of the Russian Federation, do not know who is investigating them. To apply this principle to the internal security service of all law enforcement agencies;

- regarding the independence of the judiciary, in addition to the known measures which experts and politicians propose, I refer to the experience of Germany, where it is legally established that if, for example, a judge received a phone call in an attempt to influence a court decision (or, as more often happens in the Russian Federation, someone ‘leans on’ the chairman of the court) and if the judge has not reported this to an appropriate body within half an hour, the judge will be disqualified for life. An appropriate body could be, for example, the hotline of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

In general, in order to overcome corruption in officials in all branches of government, to establish in law that a citizen entering employment in law enforcement, whether as a judge, or in a state agency, or in local government must give voluntary consent to a partial restriction of his right to “immunity, and personal and family privacy” (Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation), for the implementation on him of the OSA mentioned in paragraph two above. In this case the disclosure of personal data, obtained during the implementation of the OSA, should be punishable by criminal proceedings, as prescribed by law.

In conclusion, I will say one more obvious thing: to successfully overcome poverty we need not only economic but also political competition. Why does Finland, which has no natural resources, have one of the highest standards of living in the world? Because Finland is the one province of the former Russian Empire which successfully implemented the legal reforms of Alexander II – judicial, local governmental, etc. As a result, the authorities are strictly answerable to the population and the kind of bullying of people by officials, that we unfortunately experience daily, is absolutely impossible.

For more writings by Boris Altshuler on this issue, see the website Right of the Child and the Ekho Moskvy blog

Translated by Anna Bowles and Joanne Reynolds

Karinna Moskalenko: Denunciation of the European Convention on Human Rights would be a step toward the isolation of Russia

posted 19 Mar 2018, 09:52 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Mar 2018, 09:56 ]

1 March 2018

 Karinna Moskalenko, founder of the International Protection Centre and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, speaking on Ekho Moskvy


Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]


The potential denunciation of the European Convention on Human Rights would be a step on the path toward Russia’s political isolation. That opinion was expressed on the air of radio station Ekho Moskvy by Karinna Moskalenko, a specialist in the field of human rights, founder of the International Protection Centre, and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

“Irresponsible politicians could destroy today’s current development of Russia if they choose a path of isolationism, which, for me, would be simply unacceptable,” she said.

According to Moskalenko, the European Convention guarantees those rights that are enshrined in the Russian constitution, and to reject it would mean that Russia is not complying with its own founding laws and therefore wants to free itself from external oversight.

“That means we are effectively admitting we are not implementing the Russian constitution. We make declarations about our Constitution, but as soon as an independent mechanism of oversight steps in to assess our performance, we immediately escape into the political bushes,” she observed.

Moskalenko believes that breaking ties with the Council of Europe would be a “huge mistake” that would leave a “heavy mark” on politicians’ reputations.

“The country’s exit from such an organization could mean the failure of the government’s international policies,” she emphasized.

Earlier, the media reported that the Russian government was considering the possibility of denouncing the European Convention on Human Rights and ending its cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights in connection with anti-Russian policies which it claims are to be seen in the Court’s decisions.

Translated by Julie Hersh


Liudmila Alekseeva: Russia very much needs the European Court of Human Rights

posted 5 Mar 2018, 07:40 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Mar 2018, 07:57 ]


1 March 2018 


An interview with Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group





The Russian authorities are looking into the feasibility of withdrawing from European Convention on Human Rights, of ceasing to work with the European Court of Human Rights, and leaving the Council of Europe. According to media, this may happen if the anti-Russian line presently taken by the European Court of Human Rights does not change.

The chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, and member of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, Liudmila Alekseeva, expresses the hope that such moves would fail to materialize.

‘I hope that this will not happen because we very much need the European Court of Human Rights. I hope that such moves will be rejected. We do not wish to break off relations with Europe so completely. This is one of our most important points of contact,’ Liudmila Alekseeva emphasized in an interview with the National News Service.

In Liudmila Alekseeva’s view, denunciation by Russia of the European Convention on Human Rights would have very negative consequences for the country: ‘Given the present Russian judicial system (I would not call it a justice system), it will be dreadful.’

Translated by Mary McAuley

Lev Ponomarev: The Borisov Case. The one hope is that the judge will turn out to be an honest man.

posted 5 Mar 2018, 04:35 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Mar 2018, 04:45 ]

19 February 2018 


By Lev Ponomarev, executive director of For Human Rights, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
 

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: 
Ekho Moskvy]




On 22 February, at 12:00, the Tver district court in Moscow will issue its verdict in the case of Dmitry Borisov. The prosecutor has asked for three years’ prison for Dmitry. Come to the court and show your solidarity. Maybe, then, the judge will understand that you can’t imprison an absolutely innocent person for that length of time. 22 February, 12:00, Tverskoi Court (25a Tsvetnoi Boulevard, metro “Tsvetnoi bulvar,” 5-7 minute walk), room 20, Judge Gordeev.

What kind of cases does the Deputy General Prosecutor Grin oversee and a “grandee” from the Investigative Committee investigate? Should they be paid a salary for this? Dmitry Borisov took part in the 26 March demonstration and is now accused of using violence against a representative of authority without inflicting harm to his health (Article 318, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code. At his trial, the policeman stated that Dmitry kicked his helmet, which made him jerk his head back and experience physical pain. Photographs and video prove that the policeman is lying. The judicial system has been using Article 318 of the Criminal Code more and more often as a means of retribution against undesirable citizens. How crudely and clumsily criminal cases are fabricated can be seen based on the example of Dmitry Borisov’s case.

The indictment in the case of the two kicks to the helmet was signed by Deputy General Prosecutor Viktor Grin himself. And the case itself was run by so-called grandees from the Investigative Committee who work on special cases. Look at their salaries and judge the decree of absurdity of everything going on.

At a peaceful demonstration in downtown Moscow on 26 March 2017, Dmitry Borisov attempted to hold onto the backpack of his friend, whom several policemen had grabbed without having presented any demands whatsoever and dragged to a van because he had used his phone to photograph unwarrantedly brutal arrests. As it turns out, this is categorically forbidden! Dmitry was immediately grabbed by five police officers, who kicked the man in the groin and kidneys as he lay on the ground and wouldn’t give him a chance to walk on his own. He did not offer the least resistance and merely covered himself with his arms from the beating. When they dragged him to the van by his hands and feet, in the investigators’ opinion, he kicked the helmet of Police Sergeant I.V. Erokhin of the 2nd Operations Regiment two times with his left foot. That day, Erokhin and his colleagues did not report suffering any blows and did not inform their superiors of such. None of them sought medical assistance. Although it’s obvious that they were required, according to instructions, to register violations of the law if there were any.

At the Yaroslav district police station, charges were drawn up against Dmitry Borisov for an administrative offence under Article 20.2, Section 5, and he was released to his home. Tver district court fined Borisov 10,000 roubles. Ten weeks later, on 8 June 2017, a fifteen-man assault team led by Special Investigator of the Investigative Committee A.V. Uranov, burst into the private home where Dmitry lived with his parents and sister. A warrant-less search was carried out, and his phone, computer, domestic passport, and foreign passport were seized. Investigator Uranov did not allow him to contact a lawyer and forced the security officers present to write false reports saying Borisov had offered active resistance and attempted to flee. Dmitry was put in a minibus with tinted windows and taken away to the Investigative Committee at 4 Tekhnichesky Lane.

The next day, by a decision of Judge N. N. Dudar of the Basmanny district court, he was arrested and sent to the SIZO [pre-trial detention centre]. Dmitry has been held in the Butyrka SIZO for more than eight months. For two unproven kicks to a helmet.

Now we are going to clarify whether those kicks happened or not.

At court hearings, the prosecution questioned the “victim,” Sergeant Erokhin, Operative V.S. Orlov, and the three police officers who dragged Borisov to the van with Erokhin. At the trial, Erokhin obviously lied that Borisov had kicked his helmet visor twice. His head had allegedly jerked back sharply from the kick, and he had experienced serious neck pain. At the same time, Erokhin could not show where the kicks had struck and was constantly getting his testimony confused. In the end, in answering attorney Ilya Novikov’s question as to why he had remembered this only two months later and had gone to write a statement at the Investigative Committee’s Main Administration for Cases of Special Importance specifically on his birthday, Erokhin admitted that he had been “reminded” of this when he was called in for questioning by the Investigative Committee.

Evidently, the investigators working on the 26 March case had found a video of the police officers dragging Borisov and, in carrying out their important assignment from “the party and government,” had made the decision to designate Erokhin a “victim.” And had cooked up the story about the two kicks to his helmet and his physical pain. And Erokhin, who up until then had not made a statement about a crime, as he headed to an interrogation at the Investigative Committee on his birthday, still didn’t know he was a victim. But the investigators “suggested” that he was.

Below, we republish pictures from an expert analysis by the FSB [Federal Security Service] Criminalistics Institute on order of the investigation. Look closely at these four frames. In them, it is perfectly obvious that his foot is not touching the helmet and is passing in parallel to it. In the fourth frame, when Borisov’s leg has already dropped down, the policeman Erokhin actually does jerk his head but does so instinctively, not because of a kick. There is no sign of the shock of pain on his face. Rather I see a calm, even smiling face. There is no victim here. However, this frame was the basis for the charge — because an FSB expert saw a blow being struck here.

The three key police officers who were witnesses in the case and who dragged Borisov to the van with the “victim” Erokhin, who could not have helped but notice these fateful kicks if they’d happened, said in court that they hadn’t seen the kicks to Erokhin’s helmet and learned about them at the Investigative Committee, where they were invited to go several times for questioning by investigators in the group under General R.R. Gabdulin, who is in charge of this criminal case. The public learned the name of “valorous” General R. R. Gabdulin when criminal cases were opened against the “Bolotniki” [Bolotnaya Square demonstrators]. At the time, many young people went to prison. For this reflexive movement from pain, Dmitry, who had been beaten and had martial arts fighting methods used against him, has been prosecuted and held on remand in prison for more than eight months. 

On 20 February, the Tverskoi district court will hear arguments and a few days later issue a verdict. These are the kinds of shameful cases the special investigators from the Investigative Committee, the top officials of the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the judges who have extended Dmitry’s detention four times, have been working on.

Translated by Marian Schwartz

Editor's note: On 22 February 2018 a Moscow court sentenced demonstrator Dmitry Borisov to nine months behind bars (see: The Moscow Times, 22/ February 2018).

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