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Human rights defenders appeal to Vladimir Putin to amnesty Bolotnaya prisoners

21 November 2013

Source: (info)
Members of the Human Rights Council and of the independent commission investigating the events of 6 May 2012 have sent an open letter to Vladimir Putin requesting amnesty for the 'Bolotnaya prisoners'.

"To the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin,

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

We are very hopeful that the State Duma will announce a blanket amnesty to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Russian Constitution, as is customary around the world on such ceremonial dates. All of the public campaigns on this issue that we know of are geared towards the release of those accused of crimes not involving the use of violence. It would have a hugely positive impact on the climate of opinion in the country. However, it inevitably raises the question of what will become of the defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya case. The prosecution is proceeding on the basis that mass riots took place on Bolotnaya Square on 6 May 2012. We have our doubts that the leadership of the Russian Federal Investigative Committee and Public Prosecutor's Office will provide you with objective information on the case.

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman V. P. Lukin, along with all of the experts who have appeared before the Public Chamber and the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, maintain that the events of 6 May 2012 did not constitute a crime, as defined in Article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code on mass disturbances.

The 12 December Round Table Commission conducted an independent investigation into the events of 6 May 2012 on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. A report (attached) was published on the results of the investigation. Members of the Commission (see attached list) also came to the conclusion that there had been no riots and that there were no grounds for criminal charges to be brought under this Article against participants in the protest. On the basis of factual information gathered in the course of the independent investigation, the Commission concluded that individual acts of violence that took place during the event were caused by inappropriate actions of law enforcement officials.

The court hearings on the Bolotnaya case (the 'Kosenko trial' and the 'trial of the 12') fully substantiated the information on which the Commission's findings was based.

A vast quantity of video material was examined during the court hearings, and the statements of dozens of police officers testifying as injured parties were heard. Several of them were seriously hurt, in addition to which one had their finger broken by a piece of pavement that had been thrown, whilst another was knocked over as the result of a blow, etc. There were many more injured among participants in the protest as a result of being beaten by the police. Not a single complaint by demonstrators of being beaten has been investigated on the basis that allegedly it is not possible to determine which police officer caused them injury. Yet following a year and a half of work by the Court there is no evidence of police officers being attacked by any of those in the dock (with the exception of Maksim Luzyanin, who has already been sentenced to 4.5 years' imprisonment).

In light of the above, we appeal to you to support the proposed amnesty, and to ensure that it will apply to all defendants in the Bolotnaya case.

Ludmila Alekseeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Valeriy Borshchev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Lev Ponomarev, Executive Director of the All-Russia Movement For Human Rights

Svetlana Gannushkina, Chair of the Civic Assistance Committee

Oleg Orlov, member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre

Yury Vdovin, member of the organisation Citizens’ Watch

Zoya Svetova, human rights defender and journalist

Aleksei Simonov, writer and human rights defender

Liya Akhedzhakova, People's Artist of Russia

Vladimir Voinovich, writer

Dmitry Zimin, academic and social activist

Andrei Smirnov, film director

Vitaly Mansky, documentary film maker

Garri Bardin, animated film director

Aleksandr Ryklin, journalist

Igor Yasulovich, People's Artist of Russia

Lev Rubinstein, poet

Georgy Satarov, sociologist

Yuri Ryzhov, Academician

Sergey Parkhomenko, journalist

Dmitry Aleshkovsky, photographer, journalist and volunteer movement activist

Olga Romanova, journalist and human rights defender

Natalya Fateeva, People's Artist of Russia

Yevgeny Yasin, economist

Vladimir Mirzoev, film director

Yury Norshteyn, animated film director

Natalya Gorbanevskaya, human rights defender

Aleksandr (Sasha) Podrabinek, journalist

Vladimir Korsunsky,journalist."

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group website 

Translated by Lindsay Munford