Tanya Lokshina [Human Rights Watch]: "We have 17 days to go till the World Cup ends. FIFA has announced its concern for human rights defenders, and pressing Russian officials to release human rights activists would set an important precedent that sports bodies will use their leverage for good"

posted 2 Jul 2018, 07:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Jul 2018, 07:09 ]
"We’re desperate for news of Sentsov’s release. Just like we’re craving the release of Oyub Titiev, the Chechnya director of Russia’s leading rights group, Memorial, who is jailed in Grozny on trumped-up drug possession charges. This, while the ruthless head of Russia’s Chechen Republic was lavishly entertaining the Egyptian national team training there during the World Cup. Instead, we’ve that learned Titiev’s case will go to trial very soon. And on Wednesday, we found out another Memorial activist, Yuri Dmitriev, is back in jail in north-western Russia. Dmitriev is known for documenting mass graves of people shot during Stalin’s terror. Just a few months ago, Russian civil society had celebrated Dmitriev’s acquittal in a trumped-up child pornography case. Now the authorities arrested him again, based on what could be another fabricated, similar case against him. The clock is ticking. We have 17 days to go till the World Cup ends. FIFA has announced its concern for human rights defenders, and pressing Russian officials to release human rights activists would set an important precedent that sports bodies will use their leverage for good. There’s still time for FIFA and key international actors to use their leverage and urge Russia to free these unjustly detained people before the tournament’s last game."

        - Tanya Lokshina, Russia Program Director, Human Rights Watch

Source: Tanya Lokshina, "Jailed Critics, Activists in Russia Still Waiting for Freedom. Will There be Good News before World Cup Ends in Two Weeks?" Human Rights Watch, 29 June 2018
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