Halya Coynash: Russia’s new offensive against civil society has grave implications for Ukrainian political prisoners

posted 23 Oct 2016, 23:29 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 23 Oct 2016, 23:33 ]
24 October 2016

By Halya Coynash

Russia has removed almost all independent rights activists from the Civic Monitoring Committees [ONK] which are allowed to visit remand and convicted prisoners. Those now entrusted to oversee observance of human rights in Moscow penitentiary institutions, for example, will include Dmitry Komnov, who is on the Magnitsky List and under US sanctions for his role in the death of Heritage Foundation lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The move is disastrous, not least for Ukrainian political prisoners. It has often been the ONK who first provided information about Ukrainians whom Russia had effectively abducted, and their visits have been invaluable for monitoring how Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other political prisoners are being treated.

The new list was posted on the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation website. There can be no question that this is not deliberate sabotage. As well as removing many renowned rights activists, the Civic Chamber has also appointed far too few members. The sheer workload on each member will also seriously reduce the level of civic monitoring. [Read more]