Court refuses to remand Pavel Shekhtman in custody

posted 13 Oct 2014, 07:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Oct 2014, 07:40 ]
9 October 2014

Source: (info)
Judge Elena Abramova of the Kuntsevo district court in Moscow has refused to remand civil society activist and publicist Pavel Shekhtman in custody. Shekhtman was arrested on accusation of 'extremism', reports.

A request by Anton Krivov, investigative officer from the Russian Investigative Committee, to hold the activist in pre-trial detention until the end of November was denied.

Nevertheless, Shekhtman stayed in temporary incarceration in his isolation cell until Thursday 13:00, when Krivov had received his signature and promise that he will not leave the country. It remains unclear why the investigator could not immediately take Shekhtman’s signature after the hearing.

The hearing was closed, but, according to blogger Anastasia Zotova, who was present in court, judge Abramova in breach of Article 241 of the Criminal Code, did not make public her ruling, leaving the exact motivation of her decision unclear.

Earlier, Abramova was a Justice of the Peace for Moscow’s Tverskaya district. In that position she issued a number of verdicts in administrative cases against members of the opposition. Svetlana Ukhnaleva, a former judge of Tverskaya district court and now deputy chair of Kuntsevo district court, is on the Magnitsky List.

The reasons given by Abramova for denying Krivov’s request were that Shekhtman actually lives at his place of registration, and in addition, the investigation had not provided evidence that the activist is a threat to the witnesses in the case. Two of Shektman’s tenants had been questioned as witnesses.

According to Ekaterina Goryaynova, a legal representative with the Ulpian chamber of lawyers, who is representing the activist, Shekhtman has been charged under Part "a" of Section 2 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to hatred and enmity with the threat of violence), which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The reason for the arrest was a comment which Shekhtman published in mid-August on his personal Facebook page. In reposting a publication by the Ukrainian blogger Roman Davidenko, describing the killings of pro-Russian Ukrainian military terrorists, Shekhtman had written a sharp commentary.

Later, this post has been removed from Shekhtman’s page. However, friends of the activist argue that he would not have erased the post himself.

On August 18, Moscow police department and Moscow prosecutor's office received complaints against Shekhtman in connection with the publication of his remarks. The fact that Shekhtman had been detained became known on Wednesday morning. The activist was taken to a temporary detention cell at the police department of the capital’s western district.

Shekhtman is a well-known civil society activist and publicist. His articles have, among other places, been published on the news website Shekhtman is 47 years old, he was born in Moscow. He studied at the Moscow Historical Archives Institute. In August 1991, he participated in the defense of the White House. He has worked as a teacher in an experimental school and for an Internet media outlet. He has written a number of articles about history on Wikipedia.

Shekhtman has been involved in the movement to conserve the architectural heritage of Moscow, and in environmental campaigns, working with civil society groups such as Arkhnadzor and the Coalition for the Protection of Moscow. In particular, in June 2010, Shechtman helped Arhnadzor defend the ancient building complex in Moscow’s Kadashan quarter. In 2011, Shekhtman collaborated actively with the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest. Shekhtman has been repeatedly attacked by criminals hired by those who wanted to continue to build on the territory of Khimki forest.

Translated by Eva Cukier