Damir Gainutdinov (Agora): A new wave of repressions has begun

posted 20 Apr 2016, 03:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Apr 2016, 04:09 ]
12 April 2016

Source: HRO.org (info)
Damir Gainutdinov, a lawyer with the Agora International Human Rights Association, believes that today a new wave of repressions are beginning in Russia, Rosbalt reports, citing an interview with Damir Gainutdinov by RFI.

"It did not begin today. I’d say that it began after the events of 2011—2012,” Damir Gainutdinov told RFI.

“After the mass protests, after the Bolotnaya Square prosecutions, the authorities are trying to squash any independent activity in the widest range of areas - they are trying to control the Internet, the media, NGOs, civil society activists.

“The Bolotnaya Square prosecutions, for example, have been providing an income to several dozen investigators for many years now. Literally yesterday it became known that one more suspect in the case has been detained in Astrakhan. So yes, this is a new and probably one of the most serious waves of repression against freedom in Russia.”

Damir Gainutdinov also said that many people in Europe underestimate the significance of what is happening in Russia, “not only in the sense that this can influence human rights in Russia, but also influence the situation in Europe, including the human rights situation.”

"Let’s say people know about what’s happening with the so-called ‘foreign agent’ NGOs, people know about what’s happening with regard to the rights of the LGBT community. But they do not know about many other things that represent a serious threat. They don't know about the further development of the Bolotnaya Square prosecutions, about new laws and regulations, for example those that are being adopted in relation to the Internet. Literally in the last few days it became known that amendments have been introduced to the State Duma that will oblige communications operators to keep all information about users’ conversations and messages – oral and written – for a period of three years, and provide them on request to the security organs. In other words for three years all your correspondence and conversations will be kept and may be given to the security services. Many people don’t know about these kinds of laws."

According to Damir Gainutdinov, Agora is itself also under threat.

“On 10 February this year Agora Human Rights Association was liquidated as an NGO in Russia by the Supreme Court of Tatarstan on the basis of completely unclear grounds. Agora was accused of continuing to be engaged in political activity and trying to get removed from the register of ‘foreign agents’. It’s true we made an application to be taken off the 'foreign agent' list, but we never expected that that would be grounds for closing down the organization.”

“Our lawyers have also received threats in connection with their defence of activists, including LGBT activists, by e-mail and by text. And there is the case of Vitaly Cherkasov, for example, who was assaulted in St Petersburg by some pro-government activists as he left the court house. All this makes for a very uncomfortable situation.”