Human rights defenders present report on whistleblowers in Russia

posted 20 Nov 2017, 06:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Nov 2017, 06:50 ]
9 November 2017


On 9 November 2017 the Agora international human rights group presented its report 'Hundreds of Russian Whistleblowers'. The authors of the study, who both hold PhDs in law, are Damir Gainutdinov and Pavel Chikov.

In total, since 1995, the rights defenders have documented at least 100 cases where various violations and abuses of public interest have been disclosed.

The authors call the people who reported such cases 'internal whistleblowers’, as they learned the information through their official, employment, contractual or other formal relationships with an organisation or arm of government.

The number of ‘external revelations' carried out not just at federal, but regional and local, levels is impossible to calculate, even approximately.

Two peaks in the revelations have been noted over the last 20 years. The first occurred in 2009, and the second began in 2015 and continues to this day.

In 2009, most of the known statements were made by police officers, the most famous of which was Aleksei Dymovsky. The example set by policemen was followed by soldiers, doctors, emergency ministry officers, teachers and many more. A short-lived decline in 2011-2014 was followed by a sharp increase, which is clearly set to continue.

Exactly half (50/100) of the revelations monitored came from agencies related to the ministry of internal affairs, and the medical and healthcare sectors.

Not only does the Russian Government not encourage the disclosure of significant information; it imposes constraints on it by constantly widening the range of information that is classified as a legally protected secret, using all sorts of quasi-legal categories of secrecy, and introducing additional restrictions on talking to the media and publishing material online for certain categories of persons (for example, military service personnel).

In contrast to over 60 governments, in Russia there are no legal safeguards for persons who publicly allege the existence of threats to the security and well-being of their fellow citizens.

In general, not only can whistleblowers not expect any violations they report to be taken seriously and investigated; they often come under pressure themselves, and this can range from disciplinary action, including dismissal, to criminal prosecution, attacks and murders.

The human rights defenders from Agora highlight the fact that in 18 cases, whistleblowers were prosecuted under the criminal law, while 39 were dismissed. Oksana Semkin was placed in a psychiatric facility without reason; Andrei Dmitriev was forced to flee the country after they tried to draft him into the army; Aleksandr Litvinenko was murdered; Sergei Magnitsky died (in highly suspicious circumstances) whilst in police custody; Ilgizar Ishmukhametov committed suicide; Nikita Kamaev died in strange circumstances; and Sergei Tatarintsev was assaulted by his police colleagues,

The full text of the report can be read here.

Translation by Lindsay Munford