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29 August 2014
) The International Memorial Society for Education in History and for Human Rights has published an open letter to Russian Federation President Putin demanding an end to Russian aggression against Ukraine
To the President of the Russian Federation
Dear Mr President!
The actions of Russia against Ukraine come under the definition of aggression given in the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 14 December 1974. At the present time matters have reached a point where Russian military service personnel are directly taking part in military actions on foreign territory against the lawful authorities of a neighbouring country.
We demand an immediate end to Russian aggression against Ukraine. Board of the International Memorial Society
29 August 2014
Original source: International Memorial Society
28 August 2014
A group of Russian human rights defenders and civil society activists have issued an appeal to the people of Ukraine.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In these terrible times we appeal to you with aching hearts. The ruling regime in Russia has crossed the last moral boundary and without declaring war has begun military action in Ukraine. (Read more)
Translated by Chloe Cranston
12 July 2014
Valeriya Novodvorskaya, dissident, political prisoner in the Soviet era, founder of the first opposition democratic party in the USSR (Democratic Union) writer, has died in Moscow.
Valeriya Ilyinichna Novodvorskaya (17 May 1950, Baranovichi, Belorussian SSR, USSR - 12 July 2014, Moscow).
In 1968 she completed high school in Moscow with a silver medal. She studied to be a translator and teacher of French at the Maurice Thorez Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages.
She organized an underground student group discussing the need for the overthrow of the Communist regime.
On 5 December 1969 Valeriya Novodvorskaya disseminated leaflets with anti-Soviet verses of her own composition, ‘Thank you, Party!’ in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. She was immediately arrested by the KGB and charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda (Article 70 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR) for distributing leaflets criticizing the invasion by Warsaw Pact forces of Czechoslovakia.
She was put in solitary confinement in Lefortovo prison. When Daniil Lunts, head of the diagnostic department of the Serbsky Institute of Forensic Medicine, visited her there she told him that he was ‘from the Inquisition, a sadist and a collaborationist.’
She was subjected to punitive psychiatric measures for political reasons. From June 1970 until February 1972 she was held in a special psychiatric hospital in Kazan and subjected to forcible treatment.
She was released in February and immediately started to print and distribute samizdat.
From 1973 to 1975 she worked as a teacher in a children’s holiday home. From 1975 to 1990 she translated medical literature at the Second Moscow Medical Institute.
In 1977 she graduated from the evening faculty of foreign languages at the Krupskaya Moscow Region Pedagogical Institute.
In 1977 and 1978 she sought to create an underground political party to fight against the CPSU. On 28 October 1978 she was one of the founders of the Freed Inter-Professional Association of Workers (Russian acronym: SMOT).
She was frequently and systematically harassed by the authorities: placed in psychiatric hospitals, subjected to questioning, and her apartment was searched.
In 1978, 1985 and 1986 Novodvorskaya was prosecuted for dissident activities. From 1987 until May 1991 she organized anti-Soviet rallies and demonstrations in Moscow without official permission, for which she was detained by the police and imprisoned a total of 17 times.
In 1988 she participated in the creation of the political party Democratic Union.
In May 1991, and in January and August 1995 Novodvorskaya was prosecuted, although charges were subsequently dropped.
In 2000 she worked as a journalist and educationalist..
She published articles in Grani.ru, Ekho of Moscow, and The New Times.
She is author of a number of books: Beyond Despair
, Catcher in the Lie
, My Carthage Must Be Destroyed
, Farewell of the Slavic Woman
, Poets and Tsars
11 July 2014
Differences of opinion about events happening in our country have caused a split to take place in our society. While the majority of the population supports the government's actions, not everyone does, and many of those in disagreement are people whose opinion particularly matters.
State television channels are paid for with taxpayers' money. All of us contribute. These channels should present a range of opinions about what is going on in our country. They should not be the government's private property, its mouthpiece.
Mass media which explain events in a one-sided, biased way dumb down the population and distort the very essence of a democracy.
An infamous, tragic example of how mass media can be used to help manipulate the public occurred in the 1930s. A crowd of 40 000 people, of whom a significant proportion were students at Humboldt University, took part in a mass "Action against the un-German spirit" and burnt books. This proved to be a prologue to the Second World War.
There is an urgent need for the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) to produce a programme which gives thinking people the chance to discuss issues openly in front of a television audience of many millions of viewers.
The so-called public television channel (OTR) which was set up [in 2013] with state funding fulfils a purely decorative function. It has not lived up to the hopes placed in it.
Instead, it is worth remembering that VGTRK was created more than 20 years ago and succeeded in overcoming divisions in the country during volatile times. It is clearly necessary for television to fulfil this function again. We have the right to ask the State to subsidise a programme of this sort which would air a whole range of views. There are plenty of highly qualified people around who could get involved.
Andrei Lipsky, Ludmila Alexeeva, Liya Akhedzhakova, Andrei Makarevich, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Irina Prokhorova, Lev Ponomarev, Alexei Simonov, Svetlana Gannushkina, Valery Borshchev, Andrei Smirnov, Victor Shenderovich, Andrei Piontkovsky, Natalya Fateeva, Tatiana Lazareva, Vladimir Mirzoyev, Alexander Belavin, Leonid Nikitinsky, Andrei Zubov, Leonid Gozman, Alexei Yablokov, Sergei Kovalev, Mark Urnov, Boris Dubin, Vladimir Kara-Murza senior, Yevgeny Tsymbal, Alexander Ryklin, Igor Irtenyev, Igor Yakovenko, Marietta Chudakova, Konstantin Azadovsky, Lev Gudkov, Elena Movchan, Grigory Amnuel, Leonid Chubarov, Igor Glek, Vladimir Volkov, Ashraf Fattakhov, Nikolai Prokudin, Natalya Nikolskaya, Elena Grishina, Svetlana Ezerskaya, Anatoly Vershik, Valentin Zhuravel, Elena Raskina, Marina Gromova, Yevgeny Kalakin, Irina Bogantseva, Alexander Obolonsky, Valery Kombarov, Maria Dmitrieva, Arkady Kuznetsov, Vladimir Rikhter, Vladimir Raskin, Vladimir Krzhevov, Stanislav Shipunov, Andrei Zbarsky, Mikhail Lavrenov, Ernst Chorny, Sergei Karamov, Elena Boeva, Elena Raskina, Boris Sokolov, Irina Sitkova, Elena Bukvaryova, Nina Dymshits, Alexei Vasiliev, Victor Vasiliev, Dennis Gutsko, Nina Katerli, Ekaterina Prigoreva, Alla Nazimova, Victor Sheinis, Irina Levinskaya, Greta Vyborna, Grigory Pasko, Lev Timofeev, Petr Obraztsov, Veronika Dolina, Igor Yarkevich, Olga Timofeeva, Sergei Gandlevsky, Konstantin Kedrov, Elena Katsyuba, Oleg Klebnikov, Marina Boroditskaya, Margarita Khemlin, Varbvan Varzhapetyan, Elena Chizhova, Victor Esipov, E. Logvinskaya, Marina Ashikhmina, Valery Mastyuk, Tatiana Borozheikina, Efim Khazanov, Marina Davydova, Yury Vdovin, Olga Maxakova, Grigory Kruzhkov, Ekaterina Gaidamachuk, Tatiana Romanenko, Anna Dadeko, Alexander Filippenko, Marina Ishimbaeva, Max Armai, Natalya Ivanova. This statement was published in Novaya gazeta. Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts
11 July 2014
Bulgarian lawyer Yonko Grozev has submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) about the detention, torture and remand in custody of the Ukrainian film director, Oleg Sentsov, whom the FSB has accused of “preparing to commit acts of terror”. Grani.ru
, citing ScreenDaily
, reports that Grozev has asked the Court to take measures binding the investigators to allow access to the case of Sentsov. This, he explains, is essential since the lawyer Dmitry Dinze, who is also defending the film director Oleg Sentsov, has been obliged to give an undertaking not to publicize matters relating to the case.
In the meantime, Russia has refused Sentsov any access to the Ukrainian consul, on the basis that after the annexation of Crimea, it is alleged that the director has “automatically” become a Russian citizen, since he has not formally refused Russian citizenship, the Ukrainian human rights ombudsman, Valeria Lutkovskaya, reports, citing the answer she received to her appeal from her Russian colleague, Ella Pamfilova.
The press secretary of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Evgeny Perebeinis, commented on the position taken by Moscow: “No matter how much the Russian authorities play around with the idea of citizenship, Sentsov was and will remain a citizen of Ukraine.”
Perebeinis added that the Ukrainian authorities have received no official statements from the Russian side to the effect that the political prisoner has been given Russian citizenship. ‘Moreover,’ he added, ‘over the course of two months we have not received any answer to over 25 diplomatic notes and requests that we have sent.”
The Ukrainian film director himself, Oleg Sentsov, appearing in court on Monday regarding his detention, confirmed that he remains a citizen of Ukraine. Sentsov said, “I do not recognise the annexation of Crimea or the military seizure of Crimea by the Russian Federation and I consider any treaties that are now made by the illegitimate government of Crimea with the Russian Federation to be invalid. I am not a serf to be transferred from one landowner to another along with the land.” Translated by Frances Robson
9 July 2014
After several appeals to the region's leaders, members of the Perm branch of Memorial Society
have finally been given the chance to meet with the head of Perm Region, Viktor Basargin,
First and foremost, the Memorial activists were able to express their dismay and outrage about the events surrounding the Perm-36 Gulag Museum
. Honorary chairman of the Memorial Society Aleksandr Kalikh said that the dubious initiative of the regional authorities to establish a budgetary organisation designed to edge out and disavow the Perm-36 NGO looked like an attempt to radically alter the museum's course. Thanks to this "idea", officials from the regional administration are unashamedly applying the most ham-fisted and crude methods to put pressure on the activists, the museum's founders and those who have helped them over the past few decades.
Fundamental principles of partnership with civil society have been violated. The cooperation agreement between the regional government and the Perm-36 NGO, worked out through lengthy discussions, has been cast aside. The museum is to all intents and purposes closed to the public. The museum director, Tatyana Kursina, has been unlawfully dismissed. By order of the Culture Minister for Perm Region Igor Gladnev, the only excursion to have taken place in the last few months was for a TV crew from the sensationalist TV channel NTV. What's more, this group was accompanied by supervisors of the former political zone. In the programme shown on NTV the culture minister took a most active part, more or less advocating the destruction of everything that had been built up by the public museum.
Aleksandr Kalikh and Chairman of Memorial Robert Latypov appealed to the governor with a proposal to resurrect the jointly developed agreement, a document that takes account of the positions of all the parties in the conflict, outlining the functional rights and obligations of the budgetary organisation and the Perm-36 NGO.
Others present at the meeting, members of Memorial Varlen Kleyner, Angelina Bushueva and Evgeny Mochilin, defined their own personal relation to the museum as a memorial to their fathers and mothers who suffered during the years of Stalinist terror, who ended up in the Gulags or were shot in the period 1937-1938. Destroying the museum would mean trampling on this memory. Victims of repression tried to impress upon the governor that, intentionally or not, he was participating in a campaign to rehabilitate Stalinism and a campaign to denigrate the rights and dignity of those who suffered repression.
In response, Viktor Basargin assured the meeting participants that the regional leadership had never set itself the task of changing the course of the activities of the Perm-36 Gulag Museum. No one was trying to destroy the museum, it was continuing its operations in its entirety. The regional budget has provisions for its upkeep, which has not been the case in previous years.
The regional governor admitted that during the reorganisation serious mistakes had been made which could put the partnership principles of cooperation with the activists in doubt. In the coming days all interested parties would be presented with the final version of the agreement, containing all the points that had been agreed with the museum's management.
Viktor Basargin assured veterans that the rights and interests of the victims of political repression have been and will remain under his sphere of attention and control.
Aleksei Frolov, who was involved in the discussion with the governor, said that the regional administration had nothing to do with the sensationalist broadcast of NTV. As regards the excursion that was organised for representatives of this television channel, this has to be understood and the appropriate conclusions drawn. Aleksei Frolov assured those present that the regional administration was prepared to cooperate with the museum's founders and leaders. He noted that in many ways the conflict was not as significant as it appeared: it was being inflated by certain sections of the press as well as politically motivated organisations. It should be noted that at the time of the meeting 50,000 Russian citizens had already signed a petition
to the Governor of Perm Region demanding that the destruction of this unique museum be halted and persecution of its founders stopped.
The next issue on the meeting agenda concerned problems relating to social provision for victims of political repression. Robert Latypov, chairman of the regional branch of Memorial, spoke to the meeting, saying that many of the state's obligations in terms of social provision were not being fulfilled.
For instance, for one reason or another in Perm Region both regional and federal law was being violated with regards to implementing legal benefits to compensate travel costs for victims of repression to travel around the country, and for paying medical costs for creating and repairing dentures. The allocations from the regional budget for housing improvements for victims of repression were unacceptably low. Those who suffered political repression had practically no opportunity for getting priority entry to health and spa centres, unlike many other sections of the population on benefits.
Robert Latypov put forward concrete proposals from Memorial which could alter the situation if they were implemented. A working group should be set up, made up of experts capable of developing draft documents for the legal bodies of the administration to consider, both at the federal and regional level. The governor promised that he would issues instructions to look into how feasible it would be to implement these initiatives.
Human Rights Commissioner for the Perm Region, Tatyana Margolina, also spoke at the meeting. The Perm branch of the Memorial Society would like to thank her for her active participation in organising and holding this meeting. Translated by Natascha Kearsey
2 July 2014
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has granted a request by lawyers from the Committee against Torture for measures to be taken to ensure an applicant's safety in detention and has called on the government of the Russian Federation to take all necessary measures.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has granted a request by lawyers from the Committee against Torture
. The ECtHR also requested that the applicant should immediately be examined by medical experts independent of the penal system, in order to ascertain the circumstances under which he allegedly received the injuries described in the complaint submitted by human rights activists.
As the Court has issued an urgent request, the government of the Russian Federation has until 18 July to respond to numerous questions and provide official documents as evidence:
– when and why the applicant was transferred to GUFSIN FKU (Federal Penal Institution) IK-14 in Nizhny Novgorod region (hereafter IK-14). The authorities must provide documentary evidence for why transfer to this prison was necessary;
– the authorities must provide copies of all medical documents relating to the applicant's condition on arrival at IK-14;
– where exactly the applicant was held in IK-14. The government must give the room number and provide details of the extent to which IK-14's pre-trial detention facility (hereafter PFRSI in Russian) is separated from the rest of the prison;
– whether prisoners have access to the pre-trial detention facility, the quarantine rooms and the enclosed exercise yard;
– whether the applicant has had access to doctors and a lawyer since 10 April 2014. The State must provide relevant documents and also all medical records relating to the applicant's condition in April, May and June 2014;
– the authorities must also describe what measures have been taken for the applicant's protection since the first occasion when the applicant was assaulted;
– whether the applicant was seen by a doctor after the assault on 12-13 June 2014. The authorities must state whether a report was made detailing the injuries to the applicant's body and head. Photographs of these injuries have been provided to the Court;
– whether a prison paramedic refused to see the applicant on 20 June 2014 although this had been requested by a member of the Public Monitoring Commission for human rights in detention centres in Nizhegorodskaya Region (hereafter ONK in Russian, PMC in English);
– whether the applicant's representatives were granted access to the applicant's medical records.
The government of the Russian Federation must also supply the ECtHR with copies of all materials relating to investigations, or any criminal trial, initiated as a result of the applicant's injuries.
The government must supply full details of measures taken to investigate the afore-mentioned incident and measures taken to ensure the storage of evidence: for example, whether a video recording was made of the relevant buildings and whether these video recordings have been kept.
Given the very personal nature of the circumstances described in the complaint which are to do with sexual assaults, the European Court has decided to apply Rule 47 of the ECtHR's Rules of Court to the present case and to keep the applicant's identity secret. The applicant's name is currently known only to the applicant's representatives, the ECtHR and the Russian authorities.
None of the parties involved in this ECtHR case has the right to divulge the applicant's identity.
The Public Monitoring Commission for human rights in detention centres in Nizhegorodskaya Region (hereafter ONK in Russian, PMC in English) was contacted by an individual who is being detained before his trial. He reported many incidents of appalling abuse to which he was subjected in prison IK-14 (in the town of Sukhobezvodnoe in Nizhegorodskaya Region).
Human rights activists then sent a report to the General Prosecutor's Office, the Investigatory Committee and the FSIN [the penal service] with a request for the individual in question to be protected from abuse and for a thorough investigation to be carried out into the reported incidents. They also informed the victim's lawyer.
However, although the report on the crime was submitted to Semyonovsky Interregional Investigatory Department in Nizhegorodskaya Region on 11 June, its director, Alexei Yuzhin, did not initiate an investigation until 19 June, and only then after repeated requests by the applicant's lawyer.
On 23 June Mr Yuzhin extended the duration of the pre-investigation enquiry to 30 days.
As the applicant was in real danger, "Committee against Torture" lawyers made a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, asking the Court to take whatever measures it could.
Olga Sadovskaya, deputy president of the Committee against Torture
and director of its section for international legal protection, made the following comments: "As Rule 39 of the ECtHR's Rules of Court is rarely used by the Court [ie. imposing interim measures], we can conclude that in this case the applicant's situation is extremely serious. I do not think this would change even if the prisoner was transferred to another prison. Given that the prisoner is alleged to have committed a non-violent crime which did not endanger society, I consider that he would be suitable for house arrest.
"It is also worth noting that the management of IK-14 has attempted to put pressure on lawyer Evgenia Gubina. Human rights activists had arranged for her to defend the applicant's rights. It transpired that a complaint was made against the lawyer for not informing prison staff of the content of documents signed by the applicant and intended for the European Court. Without a shadow of a doubt, demands of this sort by prison staff breach the guarantees of legal protection to which any victim of human rights abuse is entitled, according to the ECtHR.
"In 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation decreed, in accordance with ECtHR rulings, that censorship of correspondence between a prisoner and his or her lawyer is only allowed in cases where prison management have reasonable grounds to suspect that the correspondence contains money intended for illegal investment (in which case the correspondence is only to be checked in the presence of the person under suspicion); or if it is suspected that the lawyer is abusing his or her right to legal secrecy; or if the correspondence threatens the prison's safety; or if it is illegal in any other way. Unfortunately, staff at IK-14 do not know the first thing about Constitutional Court rulings". Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts