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Pressure on NGOs: on “public disavowal” of a statement or action of a representative

posted by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

27 December 2016

Source: HRO.org

After amendments, the plenary session of Russia’s Supreme Court adopted a ruling “On some questions arising from judges’ case reviews concerning with the suspension of activity or the liquidation of non-profit organisations, as well as a ban on activities of NGOs or religious associations that are not legal entities”.

The draft of the ruling in question was discussed at a preliminary session of the plenary of the Supreme Court, RAPSI correspondent Oleg Sivozhelezov reports.

As the rapporteur, Supreme Court Judge Yury Ivanenko, remarked, during the drafting process, suggestions received from the Russian Ministry of Justice and the Russian General Procurator had been taken into account.

The rapporteur directed the attention of the Court to the significant change affecting a clause concerning a statement by a non-profit organisation (an association of citizens) that they do not agree with statements or actions of individual representatives.

The final version of the ruling is supplemented by a provision, according to which a time limit is set for a non-profit organisation or association to make a public statement that it does not agree with a statement or action of a representative - before the relevant body or prosecutor brings an administrative law suit on the matter.

As stated in the ruling, a timely public statement by the organisation releases it from responsibility for the actions of its own representatives.

Translated by Frances Robson

Historian Nikita Petrov: Why Documents on the Repressions Are Being Concealed

posted by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

27 December 2016 

Nikita Petrov, deputy chair of the board of International Memorial Society, in conversation with Elena Shmaraeva (Mediazona)

Source: HRO.org [original source: Mediazona]

Where to look for documents on the Great Terror

The majority of the documentation is kept in the FSB [Federal Security Service] archive. And that archive, unfortunately, is not fully accessible. There are individual documents that may be accessible, but everything is obtained at tremendous effort involving a great many queries and letters.

NKVD [People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs] documents are kept in the Russian State Archive (GARF) and the MVD [Interior Ministry]. Much in GARF has actually been declassified, but almost nothing at the MVD has. No civilized researcher has stepped foot there, basically.

The MVD’s main information center has a combined catalog covering all the Soviet years, everyone arrested and convicted. But you can’t go in there at all. You can only fill out a query, and then they will search that catalog: convicted, not convicted.

There is a database compiled by Memorial from the “Memorial Books” that were published in the regions. This is work that has been summarized on our website.

State agencies are not compiling a full list — for the whole country — of repressed individuals.

That same MVD main information centre could put out a database of everyone who was arrested and convicted—as the Defence Ministry did for its medal recipients, on its website “The Nation’s Heroic Deed.” I would like this very much. But they don’t want that. And they’ll find a thousand explanations for why they don’t want to do that.

For this work to be done, there needs to be a government mandate and government financing. But our government has absolutely no interest in publishing lists of everyone who was repressed during the years of Soviet power.

Let’s not do that, they say, let’s not create a schism in society. As if publishing lists of everyone who was repressed would create a schism in society! After all, everything on this list would be understandable and clear: who, under what article, and for how long. Who for homicide, and who for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda—everything on it would be clear.

For example, the MVD still has lots of materials connected with the corrective labor camp system (ITL). Although GARF has organizational materials on the ITL and the GULAG [Main Prison Camp Directorate], too.

However, there are no operational materials there from the camps, that is, about secret service operations in the camps; these are still being kept at the MVD. Therefore, someone studying the GULAG will get some materials from GARF, but certain materials are essential—and those are in the custody of the MVD.

GARF has data on mortality in the GULAG, but these are general statistics, numbers.

The documents on executions in the camps are exclusively in FSB agencies, which are the heirs of the repressive campaigns conducted in the NKVD; these are the decisions of judicial and extrajudicial agencies and prison camp courts.

All this could be at the FSB and the Justice Ministry.

In order to obtain personal information — who was repressed when — one must appeal to the FSB archive, and they will determine where the file is kept.

Anywhere departments hold their own documents, the situation is catastrophic.

Anywhere department documents have fallen into state keeping, the situation is better: visitors have access to a list of collections and inventories. But in departmental archives you don’t work the way you work in civilized archives. There’s no scholarly query mechanism and you don’t look for information independently: you are dependent on archive workers.

They can give or not give, find or not find. But documents can’t be viewed by outsiders’ eyes or searched for by outsiders’ eyes!

The researcher should be the one to go to the archive and take out the documents. You go to a library and take out a book—and you should be able to go to an archive and take out a file in the same way.

That doesn’t work in departmental archives: not in the MVD, not in the FSB, not in the MID [Foreign Ministry], and especially not in the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service).

It’s not that easy to work in the Defense Ministry archive in Podolsk, where there are a large number of classified materials. The Defense Ministry archive is better than the MVD, FSB, MID, and SVR put together; nonetheless, this is not a path made maximally easy for you as a researcher.

In a certain sense, GARF is the most advanced and civilized archive; of all the archives, the fewest complaints are against RGASPI (Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History) and GARF.

If the general situation in the archives, both state and departmental, were to be described, then it could be stated in a simple sentence: There is a law on archival matters, but all the institutions in the archival sphere have been ignoring it more and more often and to a greater and greater extent.

The departmental archives to a greater degree, but lately this has been observed in state archives as well.

They are starting to be afraid of everything. They are starting to wonder whether, if they give out this document now, some scandal won’t come of it. That is, they are starting to make judgment calls.

The law gives you permission to look at documents—but the archivists don’t want to show them to you, and they’ll find a thousand reasons to limit your right to do so.

They’ll invent these reasons, and it will all be illegal, but it’s already become part of their practice, which is hard to describe as civilized. It’s arrogation. In the archival sphere, we encounter arrogation every step of the way. [Read more in Russian

Translated by Marian Schwartz

Ryazan: Human rights defenders help orphans

posted by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

26 December 2016 

Source: HRO.org

Over 40 orphans who have been helped by Memorial in Ryazan are to receive housing by the New Year.

Young people who have left children’s homes have told lawyers at Ryazan Memorial that Ryazan city government has invited them to have a look at their future accommodation.

This year 64 apartments are planned to be made available to Ryazan's orphans. More than 40 of these will be granted by decisions of the courts in which Memorial’s lawyers defended the interests of young people from children’s homes.

The new occupants include Vitaly Stepanov, a former member of the Bolkhov Children's Home and Boarding School for Disabled Children. His personal record was lost back when he was at the boarding school, so he was not allowed to be put on the register of orphans in need of housing.

In order to prove in court that Vitaly Stepanov had a right to housing, Ryazan Memorial lawyer Aleksandr Zarutsky had to spend two years compiling Stepanov's lost information in the archives. In March 2016 the Sovetsky district court of Ryazan ordered the city government to provide Vitaly with the housing as required by law.

In December a former member of the Sheremetev Children's Home, Aleksandr Nikitin, will also get keys to an apartment. On being sent to a children’s home Aleksandr was reserved non-existent housing at the vague address 'Sidorovok village, Rybnovsky District'.

Despite the fact that no house or apartment number was given in the address, because the housing officially 'existed' he did not have the right to receive any subsidised living accommodation.

Together with lawyer Pyotr Ivanov of Ryazan Memorial, Aleksandr went through three protracted lawsuits. In the end, the court recognised the young man's right to be provided with living accommodation.

In June 2015, Sovetsky district court ordered Ryazan city government to grant Nikitin the prescribed housing. It took Aleksandr Nikitin almost 11 years to be provided with an apartment.

This information is being made available as part of the project Legal Aid for Children's Home Leavers. The project will use State support allocated as a grant, pursuant to Russian Presidential Decree No. 68-pd of 05/04/2016, and on the basis of a bidding process run by the Civil Dignity Movement (http://civildignity.ru).

Ryazan Memorial Society has been designated by the Russian Ministry of Justice as an 'NGO performing the functions of a foreign agent'. According to the organisation's management, the said decision is contrary to the Russian Constitution, and Ryazan Memorial is appealing it in court.

Translated by Lindsay Munford

Why do the Russian authorities neither accept Syrian asylum-seekers nor allow them to leave?

posted by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

26 December 2016

Source: HRO.org [original source:The 'Right to Asylum' programme of the Institute of Human Rights]

A few Syrians are being held in a temporary reception centre for foreign citizens in Izhevsk. In the summer, they approached the local department of the Federal Migration Service with a request for asylum in Russia but, instead of accepting their application, the local authorities arrested them on the grounds that they had infringed the regulations regarding migration.

The local court ordered the deportation of the Syrians but, fearing for their lives if they returned to Syria, they turned to the European Court on Human Rights. The ECtHR reacted swiftly and ordered the government to refrain from deporting the applicants until the case was reviewed by the ECtHR, and the local authorities placed them in custody to await the review.

After being held in the Migration Service’s Special Temporary Detention Centre for foreign citizens for more than six months, two of the Syrians, reckoning that the chances of being granted asylum in Russia were so slight that it made little sense to wait for the ECtHR decision in their prison-like conditions, decided to leave voluntarily, to pay their own way to the Lebanon and try to get asylum there.

But to no avail – the local police authorities refused to allow them to leave for Lebanon and suggested they withdraw their case before the ECtHR. The European Court confirmed that its decision related only to the compulsory deportation of the applicants and did not prevent their voluntarily leaving the country. But the police continue to insist that the applicants’ deportation can only be involuntary, and only after the ECtHR has reached a decision, and that until then they remain in the Detention centre.

The Syrians are quite confused. Russia wishes to deport them, but will not allow them to leave of their own volition and, while waiting for the ECtHR decision, has already held them in custody for more than six months for an offence for which custody is not proscribed by law.

Are they being penalized for defending their rights before the European Court or is it an attempt to persuade them to return to Syria and not to try to find safety somewhere else?

The applicants’ representatives have turned to the Prosecutor General, to the Federal Service of Court Bailiffs, and the Office of the RF Representative to the ECtHR, but have as yet received no reply.

Translated by Mary McAuley

Adoption: children’s rights in the light of the Yakovlev law

posted by Rights in Russia   [ updated ]

26 December 2016 

Source: HRO.org

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the president of the Russian Federation, has announced that the ban on US citizens adopting Russian orphans "is wholly justified" and that "there have not been any changes in the President’s attitude on this (issue)".

"There is no discussion about this at all at present," Peskov said on 21 December 2016. At the same time, he admitted that "various options may be being discussed at some level, but at the highest level there are no changes in attitude," reports the Newsru.com website.

Earlier the same day, the Russian Federation’s Children’s Ombudsperson, Anna Kuznetsova, announced that the situation regarding the ban on US citizens adopting [Russian] orphans "will depend on the position of the new US administration". She stated that Russia was open to dialogue about this, but that everything depended on the American side.

In mid-November, Kuznetsova had said there was a current tendency "towards a renewal" of dialogue between Russian and American officials concerning a change in the "Dima Yakovlev law" [which bans US citizens from adopting children in Russia]. She commented that this renewal of dialogue had become possible after Donald Trump’s election in early November as president of the United States. However, she did not say whether this renewal of dialogue might lead to a change in the Yakovlev law.

The Russian Federation Ministry for Foreign Affairs refuted the suggestion of a possible change to the Yakovlev law, stating that there were no grounds for doing so, and that the reasons which had prompted Russian legislators to pass this law "remain in force".

The introduction of the ban on adoption by US citizens gave rise to sharp public criticism in the Russian Federation. Many experts consider it a "cynical attempt to deal with political conflict with the West, at the expense of orphans". Spokespeople for the authorities deny this, explaining that the ban was introduced "solely in the interest of orphans".

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts

Statement of Solidarity with Grigory Shvedov in Defence of Freedom of Expression in the Chechen Republic

posted 12 Jan 2017, 06:00 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Jan 2017, 06:52 ]

10 January 2017

Source: HRO.org

We, colleagues and comrades of chief editor of Caucasian Knot Grigory Shvedov, representatives of Russian civil society, journalists and responsible citizens, are deeply perturbed by the public and direct threats against Grigory, expressed in a cynical manner by a representative of the parliament of the Republic of Chechnya, Magomed Daudov.

We consider a situation where a highly place official publicly calls for physical reprisals against someone who heads a media outlet and is a leader in civil society to be absolutely impermissible for a civilised country.

We are certain that this situation constitutes nothing less than the making of a direct threat of reprisal, a threat to life and an attempt to interfere with the professional work of a journalist with the help of threats and intimidation. These actions, in our view, are evidence of a crime under Article 144, Section 3, of the Russian Criminal Code ‘hindering the lawful work of professional journalism’.

We are deeply concerned by the absence of public reaction to this situation on the part of the Russian authorities. We demand that they take immediate and effective measures to ensure the conditions for security of the work of journalists and human rights defenders in the North Caucasus. The systematic absence of a reaction on the part of the Russian authorities to statements of this kind by leaders of the Chechen Republic, who have repeatedly made such statements in the past, and the absence of an effective investigation of crimes in this region, including those against journalists and human rights defenders, have led to impunity and a situation in which 'everything is permitted.’ The recent conviction of Caucasian Knot journalist Zhalaudi Geriev, who was sentenced to three years in prison on fabricated charges, is one more confirmation of the systematic harassment of people in Chechnya for seeking to realise their constitutional right to freedom of expression of opinion.

We demand that the law enforcement agencies conduct an effective investigation and hold Magomed Daudov to account. We demand that the head of the federal Investigative Committee, A. I. Bastrykin, take personal control of the investigation into this case and declare the results of the investigation publicly and in a well-argued manner.

We appeal to the head of the Presidential Human Rights Council M. A. Fedotov and to the Human Rights Ombudsperson of the Russian Federation T. N. Moskalkova to support our demands and ask the leaders of government bodies in Russia and the Chechen Republic to react immediately and appropriately to this situation.

We express our solidarity with Grigory Shvedov, the chief editor of Caucasian Knot, and all independent journalists working in Chechnya. We are grateful to them for the very important work that they do each day in very difficult circumstances. In conditions of systematic repression of freedom of expression they are the only source of information from this region. For our part, we promise to ensure public oversight of this case and we shall continue to demand that the authorities observe the laws of our country and the international norms that guarantee freedom of expression of opinion and the unhindered work of journalists.

Natalia Taubina, director of the Public Verdict Foundation
Yury Dzhibladze, president of the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
Aleksandr Verkhovsky, director of the Sova Centre for Information and Analysis
Valentin Gefter, director of the Institute of Human Rights
Valentina Cherevatenko, chair of the board of the Foundation for Civil Society Development and Human Rights, Women of the Don
Igor Kalyapin, chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights
Anna Sharogradskaya, director of the Regional Press Institute
Elena Shakhova, director of Citizens' Watch human rights organisation
Andrei Kalikh, freelance journalist
Aleksandr Peredruk, a spokesperson for St. Petersburg Soldiers' Mothers
Robert Latypov, chair of the Perm regional branch of the International Memorial Society
Barbara Pakhomenko, human rights activist
Svetlana Gannushkina, chair of the Civic Assistance Committee 
Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group 
Anita Soboleva, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights 
Andrei Blinushov chair of Ryazan Memorial
Julia Sereda, member of the board of Ryazan Memorial 
Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre
Oleg Orlov, member of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre 
 Liudmila Vakhnina, member of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre
Lilia Shibanova, a member of the secretariat of the European Platform for Democratic Elections, a member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights 
Magomed Mutsolgov, journalist and human rights activist 
Karinna Moskalenko, a lawyer, founder of the Centre for International Protection, Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists 
Konstantin Baranov, a member of the Coordinating Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement (MPD) 
Andrei Yurov, an international human rights activist, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights 
Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, civil society activist 
Galina Arapova, the Media Rights Defence Centre 
Elena Vilenskaya, the House of Peace and Nonviolence
Tatiana Chistova, film director 
Aleksei Kirillovich Simonov, president of the Glasnost Defence Foundation 
Boris Timoshenko, head of the information service, Glasnost Defence Foundation 
Nikolai Rybakov, deputy chair of the Yabloko Party 
Mikhail Amosov, deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg 
Sergei Lukashevsky, Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre
Arseny Roginsky, chair of the International Memorial Society 
Lev Ponomarev, All-Russian Movement For Human Rights 
Oleg Novikov, Public Verdict Foundation 
Osman Boliev, human rights activist
Dmitry Makarov, Youth Human Rights Movement 
Lydia Sviridova, journalist, civil society activist 
Natalia Yudina, Sova Centre for Information & Analysis
Viktor Yukechev, director of the Institute of the press-Siberia 
Mikhail Kaluzhsky, editor, Open Democracy, Russia 
Aleksei Kozlov, chief editor www.article20.org 
Aleksandr Delfinov, writer, journalist 
Olga Gnezdilova, lawyer
Denis Sokolov, head of the research center RAMCOM 
Boris Vishnevsky, head of Yabloko faction in the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, member of the Political Committee of the Yabloko party, columnist at Novaya Gazeta
Aleksandr Mnatsakanyan, Moscow 
Vyacheslav Bakhmin, Moscow 
Asmik Novikova, head of research programmes, Public Verdict Foundation 
Veronika Rozhkova, lawyer, Moscow 
Elena Gerasimova, director, Centre for Social and Labour Rights 
Boris Suranov, journalist 
Aleksandr Maishev, online media editor of the Caucasian Knot
Dmitry Belomestnov, journalist, human rights activist, Moscow 
Anastasia Ovsyannikova, journalist
Evgeny Grekov, civil society activist 
Maria Kravchenko, member of the Sova Centre for Information and Analysis
Zoya Svetova, journalist 
Mikhail Lashkevich, physicist, Moscow 
Marina Pisklakova, chair, Anna
Sergei Krivenko, member of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights 
Dmitry Dubrovsky, historian, lecturer, associate fellow at the Centre for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg 
Ernest Mezak, lawyer, Public Verdict Foundation (Syktyvkar) 
Anastasia Denisova, the Civic Assistance Committee
Natalia Dzyadko, Center for Prison Reform
Dmitry Kraiukhin, editor in chief, TsentrRus news agenc, Orel
Veronika Katkov, chair of the Orel regional branch, Golos
Irina Flige, Memorial Research and Information Centre, St. Petersburg 
Vissarion Aseev, human rights activist, expert with the Crimea Human Rights Group 
Mikhail Lebedev, civil society activist and volunteer, St. Petersburg 
Kristina Gorelik, journalist 
Kirill Koroteev, legal director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre
Irina Kizilova, journalist 
Andrei Rudomakh, North Caucasus Environmental Watch 
Irina Biryukova, lawyer, Moscow
Vadim Karastelev, project coordinator, Moscow Helsinki Group 
Andrei Suslov, director, Center for Civic Education and Human Rights, Perm 
Aleksei Sokolov, head of Legal Basis, Ekaterinburg 
Sergei Poduzov, Interregional public organization Individual and the Law, Yoshkar-Ola 
Anatoly Denisenko, pensioner, Essentuki 
Viktor Voronkov, president of the Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg 
Igor Kochetkov, director, Sphere, member of the board of the Russian LGBT Network 
Svetlana Kravets, psychologist, Moscow 
Valery Khatazhukov, chair of the Kabardino-Balkaria Regional Human Rights Center 
Elena Grishina, editor, Moscow
Vyacheslav Feraposhkin, journalist 
Dmitry Shevchenko, deputy coordinator of the NGO North Caucasus Environmental Watch, environmental journalist 
Yulia Adelkhanova lawyer 
Irena Podolskaya, philologist 
Maksim Burmitsky, lawyer, human rights activist 
Marina Dubrovina, lawyer of the Memorial Human Rights Centre 
Aleksandrina Elagina, Russiangate journalist, press secretary of the Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers 
Ivan Pavlov, lawyer, head of Team 29
Aleksei Babii, chair of Krasnoyarsk Memorial 
Aleksandr Kalikh, Perm Memorial
Boris Dolgin, editor, analyst 
Sofia Ivanova, chair of board of Ryazan region Golos
Sergei Davidis, member the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre 
Arkady Dubnov, journalist 
Igor Sazhin, human rights activist, Republic of Komi 
Stanislav Dmitrievsky, human rights activist, Nizhny Novgorod 
Nikolai Petrov, head of the Centre for Political and Geographical Research 
Vera Vasilieva, journalist, Human rights in Russia (HRO.org)
Liubov Moseeva-Helier, human rights lawyer, Kaluga section, For Human Rights
Magomed Tuaev, correspondent, Caucasian Knot 
Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair, "Ecodefence!"
Grigory Pasko, journalist
Anna Sevortyan, Civil Society Forum, Russia
Georgy Ramazashvili, historian
Arkady Gutnikov, director, Prince P.G. Oldenburg Institute of Law, St. Petersburg
Aleksandr Podrabinek
Tatyana Lipovskaya
Elena Denisenko, lawyer
Aleksandr Bekhtold, executive director, Ryazan section, For Human Rights
Igor Volkov, Moscow
Lena Dudukina, Human Rights House, Voronezh
Svetlana Kuzevanova, Media Rights Defence Centre
Vladimir Petrukhin, company director, Engels, Saratov region

All those wishing to sign the statement may do so at civilsoc2013@gmail.com

'From the FSB archive. Via the courts' - on the literary archive of Kronid Liubarsky

posted 5 Jan 2017, 06:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 07:04 ]

21 December 2016 

Source: HRO.org 

By Aleksei Makarov, staff member at the International Memorial Society 

On 19 December 2016 Veronika Liubarskaya handed over ten volumes of material evidence from the case-files of her father, the dissident and human rights activist Kronid Arkadievich Liubarsky (1934-1996), to the archives of International Memorial Society.

Kronid Liubarsky was arrested on 17 January 1972 and sentenced on 30 October to five years of deprivation of liberty in strict regime camps for human rights work and disseminating samizdat material. He was rehabilitated in 1996.

They had seized from him a vast collection of samizdat - a library’s worth, in fact. It included not just typewritten pages, but also photocopies of books, which were given to Memorial’s museum several years ago. Of the 19 volumes relating to the case, 10 of them had been considered as ‘evidence’. These included issues of A Chronicle of Current Events, and the anthologies Noon, by Natalia Gorbanevskaya, and The Trial of the Four by Pavel Litvinov.

This was a unique kind of samizdat that has not been documented in publications or in major archives. For example, it included the article ‘Notes on the contemporary democratic movement’ by Andrei Slavin (the pseudonym of the literary expert Kozharinov) and Aleksandr Sibir’s ‘Tenets of a patriot of Soviet power.’

In addition, part of these materials served the basis for announcements published in A Chronicle of Current Events, which gives us some idea about how the editorial board of the Chronicle worked.

The employees of the FSB archives in Moscow and Moscow region did not want to part with this treasure trove. They said that since the court had not taken any decision on the documentary evidence in 1972, its status remained ambiguous, and therefore it needed to be reexamined by a court (44 years later!) for its final status to be determined.

As a result, it was necessary to obtain the documents through the courts, which was made possible with the help of Memorial’s lawyers Tatiana Glushkova and Daniil Khaimovich.

The position of Veronica Liubarskaya and Memorial’s lawyers was simple. According to Article 11 of the Law on rehabilitation, “Rehabilitated individuals and their heirs have the right to obtain manuscripts, photographs, and other personal documents kept in the files”.

As a result, on 20 October 2016 Moscow Region Court ruled that the documents from the case-files should be returned to the person who had lawfully inherited them. Those materials that had not been considered incriminatory and had not been included in the indictment were given to the KGB’s internal library. Their recovery is a matter for the future.

Photo of Andrei Sakharov, Kronid Liubarsky, Mikhail Makarenko (1977): HRO.org

Before the New Year – on Aleksei Pichugin and other political prisoners

posted 5 Jan 2017, 06:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 06:05 ]

23 December 2016

Source: HRO.org

By Vera Vasilieva

Aleksei Pichugin congratulates and thanks those who regularly correspond with him and members of the Moscow Public Oversight Commission who have helped him immensely in resolving many important issues while he has been held in the capital’s highly secretive detention centre, where lawyers can, at best, see him once or twice a week. The staff of Novaya Gazeta and the portal HRO.org continue to maintain public attention on his fate.

The results of the outgoing 2016 have proved disappointing. The list of political prisoners, compiled by Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow), has doubled. Yes, some of those imprisoned have been released. On a November evening, Sergei Reznik and Aleksei Gaskarov spoke out in support of political prisoners at the Sakharov Centre. But it’s far too early to say the political trials are over, indeed, there is barely a pause in these convictions.

Aleksei Pichugin sends his letter in the days before New Year to those who have supported him for the past thirteen years. This number is shameful. His letter is full of light, soulful warmth, kindness. No complaints, not one shadow of anger or bitterness towards his persecutors. There are many words of encouragement. It’s as if we were the ones in prison, not him. He really is more free than some other people, such as those who are tormenting him, for example, people who are overwhelmed by fear and hate and despair.

All those freed from incarceration say that what is of most importance for them is moral support from outside – in the form of letters and cards. The geography of support for Aleksei Pichugin is growing, and the list of those he asks to be congratulated and thanked already fills more than a page.

Unfortunately, what is extremely clear – for those who have taken the time to find out – is that the falsity of charges does not affect the position of a political prisoner. It must be acknowledged that the author of these lines very much hoped that in its December session, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe would finally look into the complaint of the former Yukos employee and his lawyers about the failure of Russia to implement the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement in relation to Aleksei Pichugin. Alas, the proceedings were postponed once again by the Committee of Ministers – they will now take place next spring, in March. The story with the Committee of Ministers is already entering its fourth year.

Alla Nikolaevna Pichugina’s letter to Vladimir Putin, with a request to pardon her son, has still met with no reply.

It only remains to wish Aleksei Pichugin – and all others that have been unlawfully convicted – that 2017 will turn out to be a just year. And that it will bring long-awaited freedom. But we must make an effort to achieve this – as far as is individually possible, and each in his and her own way.

“Over and over, I wish you, my friends, as always: strength of spirit and body, health and long life, peace and love, luck and prosperity. May god let your dreams and cherished wishes come true!!! God bless you! […] To all of you, the best, brightest, most sincere words and wishes!!! But most importantly, peace and health in 2017, love and mutual understanding, well-being and prosperity, fulfilment of dreams and cherished wishes. Health and happiness to all – for many, many years ahead! God willing! Heartfelt, sincere thanks from me and my family to all who are with us! May God protect you!” - Aleksei Pichugin


Translated by Nathalie Corbett

Supreme Court dismisses repeat cassational appeal against Dadin’s conviction

posted 5 Jan 2017, 05:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 05:26 ]

20 December 2016

Source: HRO.org

Russia’s Supreme Court has dismissed the repeat appeal against the conviction of civic activist Ildar Dadin, who was sentenced to two and a half years in a general regime prison colony under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code ('repeated violations at rallies'), Grani.ru reports citing Interfax.

The judge who had initially reviewed the complaint, refused to pass it to the Court for consideration.

The first cassational appeal against Dadin’s conviction was filed at the beginning of August with the presidium of Moscow City Court. The document, drawn up by the political prisoner’s lawyers, Ksenia Kostromina and Aleksei Liptser, was supported by the Federal Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova. This complaint was accepted for consideration by the presidium, but was dismissed on September 30.

Kostromina and Liptser had already lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court on 10 November 2016. In early October the defence lodged an application concerning Dadin’s conviction with the European Court of Human Rights. According to the document filed with the Strasbourg court, in convicting Dadin Russia violated Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention, and also Protocol No. 7 to the Convention.

In addition, it has been reported that the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has agreed to consider a complaint when it had been brought a second time by Dadin, Kostromina and Liptser against Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code.

On 7 December 2015, Judge Natalya Udder, sitting in Moscow’s Baumann district court, sentenced Ildar Dadin to three years in a general regime prison colony. She pronounced the activist guilty of participating in protests on 6 August, 23 August, 13 September and 5 December 2014. On 31 March 2016, sitting in Moscow City Court, Judge Natalya Borisova, having considered Dadin’s appeal, reduced his sentence to two and a half years.

Amnesty International, the largest human rights organisation in the world, has recognised that Ildar Dadin as a prisoner of conscience, and launched an international campaign for his immediate release.

Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) has recognised Ildar Dadin as a political prisoner (for more information about the case of Ildar Dadin, see here.) 

Translated by Kate Goodby

Happy New Year from everyone at HRO.org!

posted 31 Dec 2016, 09:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 09:11 ]

28 December 2016

Source: HRO.org

The team at Права человека в России [Human Rights in Russia] wishes friends and readers a Happy New Year and other wonderful things! Good health, love, understanding, tolerance, forbearance and success! 2016 was a difficult year. All the same - we are full of hope :) Best wishes for the Festive Season!

Above: Sergei Nikitin, Igor Ivanushkin and Mikhail Baranovsky perform 'Dialogue beside the New Year Tree' (a poem by Yury Levitansky)






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