Ludmila Alekseeva, Lev Ponomarev and other human rights defenders call for reform or closure of Centre-'E'

posted 4 Nov 2011, 12:28 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Nov 2011, 12:42 ]
We are convinced that Centre-‘E’ in its present form not only fails to fulfil all its declared functions in relation to combating extremism, but 
also directly violates the constitutional rights of citizens, in reality committing extremist actions in the name of the state. Therefore it is necessary either to close down Centre-‘E’, or radically change its methods of work. 


"Appeal to the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation

The Human Rights Council of Russia believes that the police regularly exceed their powers in dispersing demonstrations organized by members of the political opposition and civic activists. It has also been established that the police division known as Centre – ‘E’ (the Centre for Combating Extremism) conducts permanent surveillance of activists and in particular of the leaders of opposition organizations, tapping their telephones and also following their movements.

Violations of this kind of the constitutional rights of citizens, especially in Moscow, create a precedent and inevitably provoke similar violations in other regions of Russia.

The two most recent examples of these violations confirm the escalation of the anti-constitutional actions of the police and in particular of the Centre–‘E’.

On 1 November at 19:00 in Moscow at the Paveletskaya-Ring metro station, Sergei Udaltsov and Oleg Prudnikov, both of the Left Front movement, at that moment simply engaged in a conversation, were detained. They were detained, according to the police officers, for the purpose of ‘establishing their identities.’ However, soon after officers from Centre – ‘E’ arrived at the police station and, without identifying themselves, began to conduct a ‘conversation’ with the two detainees, accompanied by insults and threats. At approximately 21.00, officers of the Kitai Gorod police precinct arrived and stated that Sergei Udaltsov must go with them to the police station ‘to give an explanation’. Sergei Udaltsov refused to go with them because there were no legal grounds for the police to detain the two men. After prolonged discussions on the phone with their commanders, at about 23.00 the police eventually released the opposition activists, telling Sergei Udaltsov in conclusion that he would soon be summoned to court, without giving any explanation as to the reason.

On 1 November at about 20.00, during a demonstration organized by members of the political opposition on Triumphal Square, near the entrance to the Mayakovskaya metro station on the order of Centre-‘E’ officer Aleksei Okopny, a six-year-old boy Ivan, the son of Sergei Aksenov, an activist with The Other Russia, and a nanny accompanying him, 16-year-old Viktoriya Kuznetsova, were detained by police and taken to Tverskaya police station. It should be noted that the young girl and the child had not been on the Square, but had been standing at the entrance to the metro and were not taking part in the demonstration. Their detention took place after Viktoriya Kuznetsova began to take photographs of what was happening on the Square, and she had photographed Aleksei Okopny. At Tverskaya police station six-year-old Ivan was questioned by police officers, and a copy of the protocol of his interrogation was posted on the Internet. In particular, in the section under ‘education’ it is written ‘kindergarten, 9th group’. Ivan was later handed over to his mother when she came to the police station, but the minor Viktoriya Kuznetsova remained at the police station until members of Moscow’s Public Committee for Oversight of Places of Detention (Valery Borshchev and Anna Karetnikova) arrived. In answer to their question on what grounds the minor Kuznetsova had been held at the police station for more than three hours, an officer of the Tverskaya police station explained that there had been an official warrant out for the arrest of Kuznetsova and that this information was being checked from the moment of her detention, in other words for more than four hours. Only after the members of the Public Oversight Committee had telephoned the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office was an ambulance called for Viktoriya Kuznetsova and she was released from detention. Evidently, without the intervention of the members of the Public Oversight Committee no one had been going to release Viktoriya Kuznetsova. Moreover, Viktoriya Kuznetsova said that Sergei Okopny had threatened to rape her while she was being taken to the police station.

We demand that those responsible for both incidents be punished and measures be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

We are convinced that Centre-‘E’ in its present form not only fails to fulfil all its declared functions in relation to combating extremism, but also directly violates the constitutional rights of citizens, in reality committing extremist actions in the name of the state. Therefore it is necessary either to close down Centre-‘E’, or radically change its methods of work.

Members of the Human Rights Council of Russia
Ludmila Alekseeva, chair, Moscow Helsinki Group
Valery Borshchev, member, Moscow Helsinki Group
Yury Vdovin, Citizens’ Watch
Boris Zolotukhin, member, Moscow Helsinki Group
Lev Ponomarev, executive director, Movement For Human Rights
Liliya Shibanova, GOLOS Association for the Protection of Voters’ Rights" 

- 'Appeal of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation', Grani.ru, 3 November 2011 

Ludmila Alekseeva lives in Moscow and is chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group. She is a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights.

Lev Ponomarev lives in Moscow and is director of the Movement For Human Rights.

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