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“6 May Committee” Speaks Out in Defence of Those Charged over Bolotnaya Square Demonstration

Source: (info), 13/07/12

· Right of assembly  · Human rights defenders  · Persecution of activists  · Public protest  · Мoscow city & Moscow region

On 12 July 2012, Sergei Davidis and Anna Karetnikova, members of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and head and staff member respectively of Memorial's programme to support political prisoners, took part in a press conference of the 6 May Committee on the campaign to defend those who are either suspects or have been charged in connection with the criminal investigation into the alleged "mass disorders" of 6 May 2012 on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow (the 6 May Commitee coordinates support and assistance to defendants in relation to this investigation).

It will be recalled that criminal proceedings were brought pursuant to the laws on mass disorder and use of force against public officials on the day of the events. Fourteen people have been charged, 11 of whom are in custody, one is under house arrest, and two have been released on their own recognisance. Memorial considers these matters to be political (see the declaration here).

Lawyers Dmitry Agranovsky and Valery Shukhardin, Maria Baronova, who has been charged in the case, Izabel Makgoeva, a member of the 6 May Committee, and human rights defender Lev Ponomarev also took part in the press-conference.

Sergei Davidis spoke on the legal aspects of the charges, their prejudicial nature, and the multitude of facts which show the falsification of criminal cases and give reason to suggest that the process is politically motivated.

Anna Karetnikova, who participated in the visit by members of the Moscow Public Observatory Commission to the detention cells where the prisoners of 6 May are held, noted that the conditions in pre-trial detention were satisfactory, and there was no information available suggesting pressure on the prisoners on the part of the prison officers.

Dmitry Agranovsky, the lawyer acting for Vladimir Akimenkov and Yaroslav Belousov, and Valery Shukhardin, the lawyer acting for Mikhail Kosenko, spoke about the prosecution's lack of evidence and the violations of their clients' rights.

Maria Baronova, charged in the Bolotnaya case and released on her own recognizance, spoke about the pressure exerted on her by child welfare agencies: on 25 June officers came to her house, as neighbours had allegedly complained that Baronova was mistreating her child. The activist also considers that preventative measures in the form of custodial detention for 11 of the accused are unreasonable.

Izabel Makgoeva reported that an application had been made to the Mayor's office to hold a rally on 26 July for up to 5,000 people. The organizers will protest against the falsification of criminal cases and are calling for the broadest support for those charged in the “Bolotnaya” cases.

Lev Ponomarev spoke about two public hearings on the events of 6 May which took place in the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center in June and July. He emphasised the necessity of wider public attention to the 6 May matter.

Memorial Human Rights Centre is following developments.

July 13, 2012

This translation, with minor changes, was first published by Memorial, and is reprinted here by kind permission of Memorial.