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Human rights defender Lev Ponomarev: Our soldiers are fighting in Ukraine

posted 17 Sep 2014 12:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Sep 2014 12:49 ]

16 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)

Army Conscripts’ rights Human rights defenders Ukraine

Since 10 July until 12 September 2014 the human rights organisations For Human Rights and Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia have been contacted by 231 people who are the parents of conscripted and contracted soldiers who, the parents believe, are taking part in military action on Ukrainian territory. The key signs are sudden disappearance, mobile communication turned off, presence on Ukrainian territory from 10 days to a few months, occasional contact confirming position in Ukraine. As an illustration, here are two statements received by For Human Rights, and also the appeal of two mothers of conscripts to the Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu. They have not received a reply.


№ 1394558 

To L.A. Ponomarev, Director of the NGO For Human Rights from Sergei Viktorovich, father of a soldier 


Our son and brother Titov, Nikita Sergeevich, is a soldier with 106 Division of the 51st regiment of the city of Tula. He was enlisted on 25th November 2013 in Moscow. We have found out that on 24th August he, as part of a company of the 51st regiment, was on Ukrainian territory and advanced an estimated 70km from the border towards Donetsk, taking part in military action in the village Ekaterinovka. Our guys are CONSCRIPTS!

They have been repeatedly forced to sign reports on voluntarily crossing the border without indication of dates and other documents.

On 04.09.2014 they got in contact and said that they were on Russian territory, in Matveev Kurgan. They also said that they had been taken to Ukrainian territory.

In their company there is also one soldier with concussion, who is currently in hospital near Krasnogorsk. We know that some died. We sent our son to protect our homeland.



We don’t want our son to be considered an occupier, even although he has had to shoot at people and see soldiers’ corpses, causing him moral and psychological trauma.

We are asking you to facilitate the speedy return to the territory of military unit 33842 of the city Tula of our son and his fellow soldiers, who have been forcible sent to war.

The leadership of the military unit has not given us any information about their location or about when they will return to their base. The official version is that they are on training.




№ 1394560

“To the NGO For Human Rights from Adelya Abdulbarovna Kamaletdinova, mother of the conscripted soldier Aleksei Mikhailovich Shelukhin.


My son Shelukhin, Aleksei Mikailovich, born 1995, was enlisted on 25th August 2013 and serves in military unit 33842 of the city of Tula (106 Division, 51st Regiment, 5th reconnaissance unit). From 19th August until 4th September my son and his colleagues did not get in contact.

On 04/09/2014 my son phoned me on my mobile. During the conversation I found out that all this time they had been in Ukraine, taking part in military action (one of the listed towns was Ekaterinovka in Lugansk Oblast, but other towns were also named).

One of the soldiers, Aleksei Korneev, is currently in a Ministry of Defence hospital near Krasnogorsk. Earlier he spent a few days in a hospital in Rostov-on-Don.

According to the messages of our children (we are in touch with the parents of our son’s colleagues), they might be sent to Ukrainian territory again. They have been forced to write reports WITHOUT DATES!

I, as a mother, am categorically against my son being sent (as it turns out for a second time) to take part in military action anywhere on the territory of another state.

They are conscripts!

We also present the letter sent electronically to the Ministry of Defence by two mothers of conscripts.

№ 1394562

Request to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Author category: “Family members of soldiers and sergeants (conscripts)”

Place of work (service, code name of the military unit): “Military unit 33842 of the city of Tula, 106 Division Airborne Forces, 51st Regiment, 5th Company/Reconnaissance Company)”

Text of the appeal: “Dear Sergei Kuzhugetovich,

Our children, CONSCRIPTED soldiers of military unit 33842 of the city of Tula, Division 106, 51st Division, 5th Company (Reconaissance Company), were sent to Rostov region and from 19th August until 4th September 2014 did not get in contact.

On 04-09-2014 our sons called and said that they had been taking part in military action on Ukrainian territory. The most serious battle they took part in was in Ekaterinovka, but other towns were also named.

We know for certain that one of the company, Aleksei Korneev, is currently in the Ministry of Defence hospital near Krasnogorsk with concussion.

Now they are being forced again, as before, to write reports that they voluntarily crossed the border with Ukraine, without indicating the dates. They have already seen action. They had to shoot people and to step over corpses.

We cannot get through to the commander of their unit, we get the answer, “They are on training excercises”. Now (05/09/2014) they are probably being redeployed to Ukrainian territory.

THEY ARE CONSCRIPTS! We have enough contracted soldiers and volunteers that we don’t need to send our children, who are CONSCRIPTS, there!


Mother of the soldier Nikolai Titov/ Natalya Nikolaevna Titova

Mother of soldier Aleksei Shelukhin/ Adelya Abdulbarovna Kamaletdinova

Source: Lev Ponomarev’s blog on the website of Ekho of Moscow 

Translated by Chloe Cranston

Queer-Tango Teacher Ekaterina Khomenko Murdered in St. Petersburg

posted 16 Sep 2014 12:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Sep 2014 12:06 ]

15 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
Local LGBT activists are shaken by this brutal murder and the wave of hate on social media that followed.

St. Petersburg's LGBT community is shocked by the murder of 29-year-old Ekaterina Khomenko. GayRussia.ru reports that a street cleaner found Khomenko's body next to her car early on the morning of 7th September.

The deceased's throat had been cut in a nine-centimetre slash. The front headlights and the engine of the car were still running.

The police first questioned Khomenko's relatives regarding possible suicidal tendencies, before requalifiying the case as murder.

Khomenko was a dance teacher, and her repertoire included tango for same-sex couples. Petersburg LGBT rights-organisation 'Coming Out' (Vykhod) made the following statement on the murder of Khomenko: 'We are shocked by the terrible murder of Ekaterina Khomenko, who was a queer dance teacher in St. Petersburg. Ekaterina was a bright person, a wonderful professional, a daughter and a friend. She was only 29.'

The organisation expressed its sympathies for the family and friends of Ekaterina, noting that 'we will remember her and what she did – she gave many of us the gift of joy and wings.'

Investigators are yet to release any potential versions or motives regarding the murder of Ekaterina Khomenko.

Coming Out expressed its outrage in response to the wave of homophobic commentary after the murder of Khomenko on the social media site VKontakte, remarking that screenshots of the hateful commentary will be sent to the police for investigation.

Translated by Tom Rowley

Voronezh: human rights activist’s home attacked

posted 16 Sep 2014 11:42 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Sep 2014 11:45 ]

15 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
On the night of 12-13 September 2014, the home of the human rights activist Natalya Zvyagina in Voronezh was attacked. The unknown attackers threw bags of severed chicken heads onto the balcony of the flat, and disinfectant was flung at the front door

In Zvyagina’s words, "Everything happened at night, and I didn’t pay much attention to the noise. The disinfectant may be a reference to the recent attack on another Voronezh-based human rights activist, Andrey Yurov. The aim of pranks like this is generally to scare people, but I just feel sorry for these kids who have nothing better to do with their time.”

According to Article20, the police have been notified of the incident.

Natalya Zvyagina is a programme coordinator and lawyer for the Interregional Human Rights Group and a member of the Public Monitoring Commission for Places of Detention in the Voronezh Region, as well as acting as an expert for the Moscow Helsinki Group.

On the evening of 1 July, near to the offices of the Voronezh Human Rights House, the human rights activist Andrey Yurov was attacked from behind by two people in black balaclavas who hit him and poured disinfectant over him. An ambulance and the police were called to the scene, and he was diagnosed with first-degree conjunctival burns. Andrey Yurov is a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and an organiser and coordinator of the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds

Аgora goes to Constitutional Court to contest prosecutors' powers to inspect NGOs

posted 15 Sep 2014 11:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Sep 2014 11:42 ]

10 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
Activists from Аgora Human Rights Association are appealing to the Constitutional Court over the prosecutors’ powers to decide the frequency and length of inspections carried out on legal entities. Аgora maintains that prosecutors have begun inspecting NGOs too often and without good reason. Ramil Akhmetgaliev, a lawyer at the Аgora Human Rights Association, submitted the appeal to the Constitutional Court. He is asking for recognition that a number of norms specified in the Federal Law “On the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation” are contrary to the Constitution. These norms assign to the prosecutor's office the right to carry out inspections, but do not regulate the actual procedure. [Read more]

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts

Evgeniya Chirikova on prisoner of conscience Evgeny Vitishko

posted 14 Sep 2014 08:36 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Sep 2014 08:39 ]

11 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
Eveniya Chirikova, environmentalist and civil society activist: “My visit to Zhenya Vitishko in the penal colony settlement No 2 of Tambov Oblast was very uplifting. Most likely because it is a very worthwhile thing- to visit a friend in a penal colony…”

Everyone gave me something to take to Zhenya. Almost everybody, once they found out I was visiting him, wanted me to pass him on something. This left me weighed down with a huge heavy bag and rucksack full of food, clothes and books.

In total, 23 people gave me things for Zhenya!

I want to take this opportunity to give a huge THANK YOU to all of these people! It is thanks to you that the gloomy task of collecting contributions to take to the camp was transformed into an uplifting act of solidarity.

This time I was travelling to Tambov alone. The trip on the train was a real experience. Surprising as it may be, travelling third class on the Almaty train with its three-minute stop at Tambov gave me the most wonderful memories. As usual, I and my fellow travellers got to sharing who was going where, and I told them that I was going to visit my comrade Zhenya Vitishko, who has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly writing the words “Sanya is a thief” on Governor Tkachev's fence; a fence illegally placed in a conservation area, and words that Zhenya did not even write.

My neighbours' were shocked at this: “Well, so this is what merits a prison sentence?!” “So Putin is putting us all in prison, like Stalin?!” “Once I get to Samara, I will tell all my friends about what can land you in prison, they won't believe it!” “I feel sorry for you young people, we old people have at least lived our lives, but what awaits you?”

Such heartfelt responses somehow reconciled me to this life in my home country, where devil knows what is happening…

In Tambov I met with the Zhenya's local lawyer Valentina Shaisipova. It should be said, that Zhenya has been amazingly lucky in the good people involved in his case.

It is rare that you have the good fortune to be helped by two super guardian angels. Valentina Shaisipova is a great, professional lawyer who at the same time is the most humane person. And then there is Andrei Kolmakov, the incredibly kind-hearted human rights defender from Tambov's Public Monitoring Committee.

Once inside the colony, it feels like time moves differently, at a much slower pace. I waited to meet Zhenya from 10am to 5pm, but it seemed more like a week.

Zhenya was his usual self, full of energy and optimism. He looked well: he was tanned, in great physical condition and was wearing clean and ironed clothes.

His mind was solely on protecting the environment. Zhenya told me about Rosneft’s plans to start drilling for oil in the Black Sea and we talked about ways to stop this madness.

Zhenya has a marvellous strength of spirit, it is impossible to pity him, because he is not self-pitying, nor beaten down. He is full of plans, ready to carry on protecting the environment. Prison has not broken him.

Tambov activists take the two-hour journey to Zhenya to ask his advice on how to protect their green spaces.

It is a huge pleasure to talk with Zhenya Vitishko. He is an amazing man.

You can still sign the petition for the release of Zhenya Vitishko: http://activatica.org/blogs/view/id/317/title/sbor-podpisey-za-osvobozhdenie-jekouznika-jekologa-evgeniya-vitishko

Free Zhenya Vitishko!"

Amnesty International considers Evgeny Vitishko a prisoner of conscience who has been imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should be immediately and unconditionally released. 

Translated by Holly Jones

Memorial Human Rights Centre loses appeal against 'foreign agent' ruling

posted 12 Sep 2014 13:06 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 12 Sep 2014 13:20 ]

Source: HRO.org (info)
By Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre 

Today, 12 September 2014, Moscow City Court heard the appeal of Memorial Human Rights Centre against the ruling of the Zamoskvoretsky district court.

On 23 May 2014 the district court dismissed our appeal against the prosecutor’s Notice of 29 April 2013 that obliged us to register as a ‘foreign agent’. Today Moscow City Court again dismissed our appeal.

The court hearing, which lasted almost one hour, taught us many new things.

The judge chairing the hearing in an offhand manner began to discuss the lists of political prisoners that are regularly drawn up and published by Memorial Human Rights Centre, but which the prosecutors did not say a single word in their ‘Notice’ and which were not discussed by the court of first instance.

The prosecutor, together with the judge, continued stubbornly to confuse Grigory Okhotin, director of the project OVD-Info, and Sergei Davidis, who heads the programme for support of political prisoners, attributing the actions and evidence of the former to the latter.

Moscow City Court ignored the decision of the Constitutional Court that clearly stated on 8 April 2014 that an organization does not bear responsibility for the actions of its member where the member is acting in a personal capacity (or on behalf of another organization).

We found out that reporting to a donor means to act in the donor’s interests; that to ‘put in question the actions of the authorities’ means to be engaged in political activity; that to inform the public about political repressions means to stir people up.

For the first time we have seen a prosecutor arguing that the prosecutor’s Notice is nothing more than a meaningless piece of paper that has no authority and is unable to violate anybody’s rights.

At last we found out much that was new about the properties of time: that a grant received in 2013 could somehow influence the mass demonstrations that took place in of 2011 and 2012.

Moreover, the prosecutors from the very beginning used in their ‘Notice’ facts and events that took place before 21 November 2012, that is, before the ‘foreign agent’ law came into force..

It was vividly demonstrated to us that the prosecutors’ ‘Notice’ could be lawful and well-grounded only in a world that rejects human and physical laws, including the law of causation. Perhaps in a distorted world of that kind we could indeed be someone or other’s ‘agents’.

Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow

Mikhail Savva on legal amendments absolving prison officials from liability

posted 11 Sep 2014 08:56 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Sep 2014 08:58 ]

9 September 2014 

Source: HRO.org (info
Professor Mikhail Savva comments on the new amendments put forward by the Justice Ministry: “In view of the lack of oversight, this amounts to giving the Federal Penitentiary Service a free hand.” 

Recently, the Government Commission on Legislative Activities approved for consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers a draft law giving employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service virtual carte blanche over those in their custody. The package of amendments has been developed by the Russian Justice Ministry, of which the Federal Penitentiary Service is a part. The draft law absolves employees of the penal system from liability for harm caused to prisoners through the use of physical force, non-lethal weapons or firearms, if such occurred on the basis of lawful grounds. [Read more]

Translated by Natascha Kearsey 

In Moscow, victims of the terrorist attack on Guryanova St. are remembered

posted 10 Sep 2014 13:19 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Sep 2014 09:07 ]

9 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
In Moscow the victims of the act of terrorism that took place 15 years ago on Guryanova St. have been remembered. As a result of the explosion on 9 September 1999, 100 people died and more than 250 were injured. This year, dozens of people came during the night of 8-9 September to the memorial that stands at the location of the house that was blown up. A service for those killed was held at the chapel named ‘The Joy of All who Grieve’.
[Read more]

Soldiers' Mothers organisation in St. Petersburg comes under pressure

posted 9 Sep 2014 13:21 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Sep 2014 09:10 ]

8 September 2014

Source: HRO.org (info)
In recent days the pressure on the NGO Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg has increased. The human rights organisation believes that the authorities are possibly seeking to prevent them from speaking out. Immediately after the head of the organization, Ella Polyakova, made public information about those Russian military service personnel who were injured and killed, it is assumed, on the territory of Ukraine, she began to receive threats. [Read more]

Congress of Intelligentsia urges Russia to end aggression in Ukraine

posted 7 Sep 2014 13:13 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Sep 2014 13:15 ]

5 September 2014 

Source: HRO.org (info
Statement by the Congress of Intelligentsia against war, the self-isolation of Russia and the restoration of totalitarianism

‘More and more trustworthy evidence is becoming available about the presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory and their participation in the hostilities. There have been more and more secret and anonymous - shameful and insulting - burials of Russian citizens who are military service personnel and have been killed in Ukraine. [Read more]

Source: "Congress of the Intelligentsia

Translated by Ana-Maria Sibur

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