Person of the Week: Andrei Babushkin

posted 16 Mar 2015, 06:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Mar 2015, 06:41 ]
Andrei Babushkin is one of Russia’s leading human rights defenders, director of the Committee for Civil Rights, a member of the Public Oversight Commission for Moscow, and a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council.

On 8 March at a court hearing the judge said Zaur Dadayev, a suspect in the killing of Boris Nemtsov, had confessed to involvement in the murder. However, Dadayev did not admit guilt in the courtroom. On 10 March 2015 Andrei Babushkin, together with journalist Eva Merkacheva, visited Dadayev in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre where he is held. After the visit, Babushkin said there were "reasons to believe Zaur Dadayev confessed under torture". He said Dadayev had shown him marks from handcuffs and ropes around his legs, and told him he had been tortured with electricity. Babushkin called for the allegations to be independently investigated.

On 11 March, the Investigative Committee said that Babushkin and Merkacheva had violated the law by revealing details about their meetings with the suspects and could face prosecution. Babushkin said he was subsequently questioned by investigators on 12 March "as a witness in the case of Boris Nemtsov's murder." He said Investigative Committee officers told him that, because he is witness, he is now barred from visiting suspects in the case. In a statement published on the website of his organization, Babushkin denied the allegations of the Investigative Committee.

Amnesty International condemned the threat to bring criminal charges against Babushkin and Merkacheva, and said their treatment “raises alarming questions over the fairness of the investigation”.

John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, said: “Threatening legal action against those who report a crime as serious as torture is ludicrous. To ignore serious allegations that torture was used to force confessions would make a complete mockery of Russia’s judicial system. They must be taken seriously, and fully, promptly, independently and effectively investigated.”

Sources: ‘Nemtsov murder: Zaur Dadayev confession “forced”,’ BBC, 11 March 2015; ‘Activist Barred From Visiting Nemtsov Slaying Suspects After Torture Claim,’ RFE/RL, 12 March 2015 ; ‘Russian activists threatened with criminal charges after raising torture allegations’, Amnesty International, 11 March 2015.

Photo: Wikipedia