Lev Ponomarev tells Presidential Human Rights Council about on-going political repression in Russia

posted 5 Apr 2015, 07:13 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Apr 2015, 07:21 ]
31 March 2015

Source: HRO.org (info)
At a session of the Human Rights Council, Lev Ponomarev, head of the movement For Human Rights, told those attending that Russia is now experiencing political repression, Kasparov.ru reported on 30 March 2015. The human rights activist related instances of illegal detentions during opposition demonstrations. He noted that the political parties not represented in parliament are submitting requests to hold political rallies and marches, which means they are support dialogue with the government. However they are usually refused the right to hold events in the chosen places and after long negotiations the authorities either offer alternative choices or reject the request altogether.

“As a result there is a wave of activity on social networks, and radical groups have started to appear who ask: “There’s no question about it! We’ll definitely take part in the event whatever they say,” Ponomarev pointed out. If the public event is not allowed, a group of participants agree to take part, but without any political slogans or banners.

“The Constitution allows such a move. What happens next? People stand on pavements, they let them stand there for 10-20 minutes, and then they start detaining them,” Ponomarev said.

He said that at a rally in support of Oleg Navalny, around 400 people were detained and that in the last two years thousands of people have been detained at protest events.

Ponomarev described a typical detention: “How does it happen? A group of police officers attack a person; they grab him and drag him into a bus. How should it be by law? A police officer should introduce himself, explain to the individual what laws he or she is breaking and tell them to stop, and only after this take them to the police transport vehicle if something illegal has taken place. In reality the officers are committing a criminal offence, because they are not allowing the person to realize their rights.”

According to Ponomarev, the police officers then make out their reports of administrative offences, all using the same template, in other words they commit another criminal offence by falsifying official documents. The court in its turn proclaims the indicted guilty and sentences them to time in jail or to a fine.

In this way the people ready for a dialogue with the government are pushed towards radical resistance.

Ponomarev also spoke about the campaign of harassment against civil society nonprofit organizations in Russia, their designation as “foreign agents”; and about the gigantic fines hitting the civic grouops and their leaders, allegedly for breaking the law on nonprofit organizations; about political prisoners, whose number is becoming ever larger in today’s day Russia; and about the growing forced political emigration from the country.

Ponomarev asked the Human Rights Council for help in starting a discussion between the government and the extra-parliamentary parties.

He underlined the necessity to organize transparent, free and fair elections in 2016, and that the principles on which their conduct should be based should be openly discussed with the participation of the extra-parliamentary parties. According to Ponomarev, this is the only chance not to allow a “Maidan,” with which the government has been scaring the Russian TV audience for the past year. 

Translated by Margherita Galluzzi