Lev Ponomarev: The Manezh Charges Are Politically Motivated

Source: HRO.org (info), 12/10/11 

Speaking at a press conference, Lev Ponomarev, leader of the Movement for Human Rights, has said that the charges brought in connection with the disturbances on Manezh Square are politically motivated. 

Lev Ponomarev said the course of the investigation had clearly shown that the investigators were not impartial and the charges that resulted were politically motivated. Ponomarev asserted that the political nature of the case is shown by a large number of factors. “It is clear that the organizers of the disturbances on Manezh Square were right-wing organizations,” he said. “But what’s happening is that charges have been brought against members of The Other Russia.” 

As Ponomarev pointed out, statements made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Minister of the Interior Rashid Nurgaliev immediately after the disturbances confirmed this. At that time, both public officials said that those responsibile for the “Manezh incident” should be sought among left-wing radicals. “Nurgaliev announced that those guilty were left-wing radicals and everyone thought he had just mixed up the words ‘left’ and ‘right’,” Ponomarev said, “But it turns out everyone had understood everything correctly.” 

Human rights defender Ponomarev explained that the aim of such an “interpretation” could be to allow the authorities to “cover up” the actions of nationalists, Kasparov.ru reports. 

Ponomarev thinks it possible that officials at the highest level are using the right-wing radicals to justify increasing repression against members of the opposition. He thinks the events on Manezh Square also gave the authorities the opportunity to prosecute members of The Other Russia. Lev Ponomarev explained: “They succeeded in frightening everyone, and gave themselves a present at the same time.” 

On 11 December 2010 more than 5,000 football fans and nationalists rioted on Manezh Square. They had come to the Square after taking part in a march on Kronshtadt Boulevard in memory of Egor Sviridov, a Spartak fan shot dead in a street fight on 6 December. As a result of the disturbances, according to the Moscow city authorities, 32 people were injured. 

At present approximately ten people have been charged in connection with the rioting. Among them are a citizen of Belarus, an activist of the unregistered The Other Russia movement, Igor Berziuk, who is a member of the Strategy-31 movement, and activists of The Other Russia Kirill Unchuk and Ruslan Khubaev, as well as Leonid Panin and Aleksandr Kozevin. They have been charged with inciting mass disturbances, hooliganism, inciting hatred, using force against a public official and involving a minor in crime.
Rights in Russia,
12 Oct 2011, 12:58