Memorial Human Rights Centre: Petr Miloserdov, a political consultant and sociologist, is a political prisoner

posted 8 Jun 2018, 14:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Jun 2018, 14:14 ]
4 June 2018

Moscow political consultant and sociologist Petr Miloserdov, for whom a warrant was issued on 7 September 2015, was detained by law enforcement officers on 24 January 2018. He was charged with committing crimes under Article 282.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation of an extremist group), Article 282, Section 1 (incitement of hatred and enmity, and also defaming a group of persons on the basis of their ethnicity) and Article 282, Section 2, Point b (incitement of hatred and enmity, and also defaming a group of persons on the basis of their ethnicity and on the basis of the social group to which they belong, by an organised group). Miloserdov was charged on four counts:

  • Under Article 282.1, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code (punishable by up to 10 years’ deprivation of liberty) Miloserdov is charged with allegedly, jointly with the former leader of the banned Movement Against Illegal Immigration Aleksandr Belov (also known as Potkin), creating an extremist group with the intention of overthrowing the authorities in Kazakhstan; 
  • On two counts under Article 282, Section 2, Point b (punishable by up to six years’ deprivation of liberty), Miloserdov is charged with allegedly participating in the development and writing of the texts, The ‘Evil Kazakh’ Project and An Outline Plan of Events to Prepare Protests on 16 December, inciting, respectively, social and ethnic hatred;
  • Under Article 282, Section 1 (punishable by up to five years’ deprivation of liberty), Miloserdov is charged with allegedly ‘using a personal computer… to publicly post on YouTube on 4 November 2015 a video entitled, ‘Look out They’re Coming…Nationalists on the Streets of Moscow… Report,’ at a time and place that have not been established by the investigation.’
In our opinion, Miloserdov is innocent of the offences with which he has been charged. He is being prosecuted only because the Investigative Committee wishes to obtain testimony from him against the nationalist politician Aleksandr Belov (Potkin). This is shown by the fact that Miloserdov, as a great deal of evidence shows, was in fact not being sought by the authorities until the week following the quashing of Belov’s conviction for offences of an extremist nature by a court of cassation, when he was detained. As is known, the prosecution of Belov was characterised by a very weak evidential base and, particularly, by clear indications that the charges of ‘extremism’ had been fabricated. The contrived nature of Miloserdov’s prosecution is also confirmed by the fact that his prosecution, for allegedly committing a criminal offence regarding the interests of another state, was conducted exclusively on the initiative of the Russian law enforcement agencies. No request from Kazakhstan, which had contacted the Russian authorities solely regarding Belov, had been received concerning Miloserdov.

In the formal text of the decision to charge Miloserdov, practically all the incriminating acts (meetings, journeys, and so forth) attributed to the ‘extremist group’ were committed by Belov. This confirms the view that the investigating officers criminalised Miloserdov’s work as a political consultant and sociologist with no grounds whatsoever. There is no evidence to confirm that Belov committed the acts in question ‘jointly’ with Miloserdov, or ‘in the course of carrying out a general criminal plan.’ We consider that, in accordance with Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, all remaining doubts as to the guilt of the accused must be interpreted in his favour, while the charges Miloserdov faces must be specific and not contain abstract references to his guilt for which there is no evidence.

Moreover, the fact that the accused took part in both the systemic opposition (he was a member of the CPRF until his expulsion in 2008 for his support for the ‘Dissenters’ March’) and the extra-systemic opposition (in terms of oppositional, national-patriotic and municipal projects) in the 2000s and the early 2010s, made him a likely target of politically motivated prosecution.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Petr Miloserdov a political prisoner and demands his immediate release.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

For more information about this case, see here.