Council of Human Rights Defenders: All the ‘Bolotnaya prisoners’ must be released!

posted 3 Feb 2014, 05:40 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Feb 2014, 06:43 ]
29 January 2014

Source: (info)
Statement by Council of Human Rights Defenders 

"The first trial of a group of those charged in relation to the events of 6 May 2012 has entered its final stages. Of the 12 defendants only four came under the amnesty, eight are awaiting the court’s judgment. Others are yet awaiting the start of their trials.

The prosecution has already called for a sentence of six years in a normal regime penal colony for Aleksandra Dukhanina (also know by her married name of Naumova) and Sergei Krivov; five-and-a-half years for Andrei Barabanov, Stepan Zimin, Denis Lutskevich, Aleksei Polikhovich and Artem Savelov; and five years for Yaroslav Belousov.

By tradition, the court can ‘slightly reduce' the sentences demanded by the prosecutors, and the on appeal the courts can cut them by just a little more, to show humanity.

But any judgment sentencing the Bolotnaya prisoners to years in prison will be perceived by public opinion in Russia and internationally as a cruel and cynically demonstrative reprisal.

Everyone knows – and this has been confirmed by what has been heard and seen in court over the six months of the trial – that there were no riots on that day in Moscow. It is all the more evident in comparison with the conflicts that have taken place on the streets of Kiev. The physical and moral damage suffered by the representatives of law enforcement agencies are miniscule in comparison with the scale of the clashes on the evening of 6 May at Bolotnaya Square, and with the brutality of the police and the special service troopers themselves. The trial has shown that there is no evidence that the accused caused any significant harm to the victims.

All this is perfectly clear to the court, to the authorities, to society and to the experts.

If the defendants are convicted, the authorities, despite all previous actions, will show that they have now taken a course toward confrontation with civil society." 

Ludmila Alekseeva, chair, Moscow Helsinki Group

Svetlana Gannushkina, chair, Civic Assistance Committee

Valery Borshchev, member, Moscow Helsinki Group

Yury Vdovin, deputy chair, Citizens’ Watch

Oleg Orlov, member of the council, Memorial Human Rights Centre

Lev Ponomarev, executive director, For Human Rights

Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the council, Memorial Human Rights Centre