Legal Case of the Week: Natalya Sharina

posted 7 Nov 2016, 05:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Nov 2016, 05:49 ]
On 2 November 2016 the trial of Natalya Sharina, director of Moscow's Ukrainian Literature Library, on charges of extremism and embezzlement got under way off in Moscow. If convicted, she will face up to ten years in prison. As RFE/RL reported, on the first day of the trial, Natalya Sharina pleaded not guilty to charges of extremism and embezzlement. She was detained in October 2015, RFE/RL report, "and charged with inciting extremism and ethnic hatred because her library's collection allegedly included books by Ukrainian ultranationalist and author Dmytro Korchynskiy, whose works are banned in Russia." She was then placed under house arrest. However, in April 2016 she new charges of 'misallocating library funds' were brought against her ('allegedly because she used library funds to pay for her legal defense in another extremism case against her that was dismissed in 2013').

Natalya Sharina has been designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which has called for her immediate and unconditional release. She denies all charges and has said she believes they are politically motivated. On 21 October 2016 a court extended the house arrest of Natalya Sharina court until 28 April 2017. Amnesty International also notes that there are serious concerns about Natalya Sharina’s health and access to adequate medical treatment. On 4 November 2016, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on the case of Natalya Sharina. 

Photo of Natalya Sharina: Amnesty International (USA)

Amnesty International report: Nataya Sharina’s trial has begun after the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office submitted her case to the Moscow Meschanskiy Court on 7 October. At the first hearing on 2 November, Natalya Sharina declared that she understood, and pleaded not guilty, to the charge of “embezzlement on an especially large scale”. For the charges of “inciting enmity or hatred with abuse of office” she said that it was unclear which of her actions violated the law. Her lawyer further challenged the indictment by pointing out that there is no evidence in the case file that Sharina had “extremist intentions and anti-Russian sentiments”. He went on to state that the embezzlement charges were unfounded as all the contracts in question had been approved by the higher level officials. Natalya Sharina’s daughter told Amnesty International that many of her mother’s former colleagues, and Library users, came to support her at the trial. The next hearing is planned for 23 November. 

Amnesty International urges members of the public to write immediately in Russian or your own language:

 Calling on the authorities to terminate unfounded criminal proceedings against Natalya Sharina; 
 Calling on the Russian authorities to lift house arrest of Natalya Sharina immediately and unconditionally as she is a prisoner of conscience; 
 Urging that Natalya Sharina should have an immediate access to the medical treatment she requires. 

Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika 
Prosecutor General’s Office ul. B. Dmitrovka, d.15a 125993 Moscow GSP- 3 Russian Federation Fax: +7 495 987 5841 / +7 495 692 1725 
Salutation: Dear Prosecutor General Moscow City 
Prosecutor Vladimir Victorovich Churikov 
Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office Pl. Krestianskaia Zastava, dom 1 109147 Moscow Russian Federation Fax: +7 495 951 50 40 
Salutation: Dear Prosecutor 
And copies to: Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation 
Tatiana Nikolaevna Moskalkova ul. Miasnitskaia, 47 107084, Moscow Russian Federation Fax: +7 495 607 7470 / +7 495 607 3977 (to check if fax received: +7 495 607 1854) 
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. 

'Ukrainian Library Director Goes On Trial In Moscow,' RFE/RL, 2 November 2016