Person of the Week: Sofia Rusova

posted 27 Mar 2017, 07:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Mar 2017, 07:09 ]
On 21 March 2017 Sofia Rusova, a board member of the North Caucasus Environmental Watch (also known as EcoWatch), an NGO, was detained during a one-person picket she was holding in Moscow. As Caucasian Knot reported, Sofia Rusova was protesting against the construction of ski resorts in the Caucasian Reserve: "The Caucasian Knot has reported that today the activists Sofia Rusova and Atsamaz Khadikov have held solo pickets at the building hosting the Eighth International Environmental Forum, in protest against the activities of the Electrozink Factory and the construction of a resort in the territory of the Caucasian Reserve. At first, the guards tried to tear up the picketers’ posters. A journalist Maxim Rumyantsev how was at the place of the incident, called the police, stating that Rusova 'had used violence' against him. According to Sofia, he tried to grab the poster [that read] 'No to construction of ski resorts in the territory of the Caucasian Reserve!' "

Caucasian Knot later reported that Sofia Rusova had left the police station in Moscow to which she had been take by police officers. According to Rusova she made a statement about damage to her personal property during the picket.

Photo of Sofia Rusova: Caucasian Knot

The same day the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled that police officers should protect one-person protesters at the sites the protests take place, instead of removing them to a police station. As RAPSI reported, "the ruling was issued by the court after reviewing a part of the federal law 'On Police' in relation to an appeal filed by a Belgorod resident Vladimir Sergiyenko.' According to RAPSI report, Sergiyenko had been arrested by police officers twenty-five minutes after beginning his one-person protest. He was taken to a police station and released an hour later: "The courts, which reviewed this case, ruled that officers were acting in accordance with Russian legislation. Rulings read that the life of the protester was in danger from citizens who disagreed with him and that police officers brought him to the station for his own safety. The protester, on the contrary, insisted that his rights were violated." The Constitutional Court has now ruled that police must uphold order and protect single-person protesters against possible threats, while any police action must be proportionate to the danger faced by the protester. RAPSI noted, "A threat to the life and health of a one-person protester should be real, not presumed, the Constitutional Court explained."

'Sofia Rusova, member of “EcoWatch”, detained in Moscow,' Caucasian Knot, 21 March 2017
'Activist Rusova complains about provocation during her picket,' Caucasian Knot, 21 March 2017
'Solo pickets under the slogan "Stop poisoning Caucasus!" held in Moscow,' Caucasian Knot, 21 March 2017
Mikhail Telekhov, 'Russian Constitutional Court rules police must protect one-person protesters,' RAPSI, 21 March 2017