Ivan Pavlov: On the amendments to the counter-terrorism law

posted 4 Jul 2016, 06:19 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Jul 2016, 06:33 ]
24 June 2016

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Radio Svoboda]

This is a translated extract from ' "Jail children, encourage informants." Who are the "antiterrorist amendments" in fact aimed at?' ["Сажать детей, поощрять доносчиков". Против кого нацелены на самом деле "антитеррористические поправки" '] Moscow Helsinki Group, 24 June 2016]

Photo: Moscow Helsinki Group

The Duma amendments to the counterterrorism law have been deemed unprecedentedly harsh. Who are they in fact aimed at? Our guest on Radio Liberty [. . .] is a lawyer and human rights advocate, chairman of the Council of the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, founder of the Freedom of Information Foundation and Team 29, and an activist in the movement for the development of state openness in Russia - Ivan Pavlov. Our interviewer is Elena Rykovtseva. […]

Elena Rykovtseva: We have Ivan Pavlov on the line. A lawyer working in Prague, he, too, has been through the entire nightmare around the fact that amendments to the counterterrorism law might have been passed that would have involved stripping citizenship. They weren’t, but we’re still going to talk about the fact that this threat hangs over us all. Just because it was not discussed today, just because it was taken off the table, absolutely does not mean that it won’t resurface tomorrow. I would like you as a legal expert to explain to us how this amendment could have made it through the first reading. Someone could be stripped of citizenship for being a member of an international organization, for example, without a request from some higher-up boss, in the form of President Putin, for example. How do you characterize this from the standpoint of international law and the legal precedents you’ve encountered in your practice, and have you seen this in other situations?

Ivan Pavlov: First of all, we should point out the positive fact that they decided not to break their lance on this and very quickly, and the fight against terrorism notwithstanding, these extremely odious amendments did not go through in the end. Nor did the amendments involving side-stepping the constitutional ban on stripping citizenship, nor did the amendments involving limiting Russians’ travel abroad. But you were absolutely correct in saying that this isn’t forever, that the deputies will return from vacation rested and before the elections may organize some other demarche for us and come up with some amendments. Because right now it’s election season, and right now deputies have to earn points. Some deputies are earning their points but not with the voters. We see them caving in to the executive branch; the FSB has been allocated unlimited powers, and the executive branch is increasingly being given all kinds of opportunities to restrict our rights and freedoms.

Elena Rykovtseva: Stripping citizenship—have you ever encountered such a thing? I’m curious in the sense of precedent. Is there anything anywhere? You live in the Czech Republic. What can they strip you of citizenship for, if anything?

Ivan Pavlov: There are a few states whose constitutions permit the stripping of citizenship in exceptional instances. For example, given an act of terrorism, or the commission of terrorist-oriented crimes. In France, for example, there are regulations like that in effect, and there they can strip citizenship, but specifically for the commission of a terrorist-oriented crime. We have had the following proposed: apart from terrorist-oriented crimes, to strip citizenship from those who have committed extremist-oriented crimes. Today, “extremism” covers literally everything—posting a “like” on Facebook, reposting something on VKontakte, or writing a post that doesn’t fall in with the general party line. There will always be some expert from the Institute of Linguistics, as in the case with Natalia Sharina, the director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature. They found an expert who had already been working under Stalin and who found in a few books they’d supposedly found in the library extremist fragments that, you see, rather than glorify Soviet power, quite the contrary, criticize that Soviet power. The expert, who studied and worked under Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, concluded that, yes, these texts provoke hostility and dissension. Right now there is a real possibility of imprisonment for extremism for anyone who writes, simply based on an analysis of their texts. But in addition to terrorist- and extremist-oriented crimes, Mrs. Yarova has gone further and proposed stripping people, citizens of Russia, of citizenship for having taken jobs in organs of power of foreign governments or cooperating with international organizations. […]

Translated by Marian Schwartz