4 December 2014
Source: HRO.org (info)
To the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Dear Yury Yakovlevich,
The law enforcement agencies of the town of Budennovsk in Stavropol region are currently carrying out an operation to identify people who at various times have received legal aid from Liudmila Bogatenkova – director of the NGO “Mothers of Prikumye”. Her lawyers have the impression that a “police commando” has been dropped simultaneously in several regions within the North Caucasian Federal District.
A number of cases area already known when investigating police officers approached those who had received assistance from Bogatenkova. In order to discredit her, they used false information, alleging that she was being placed under house arrest. Claiming that she was going to be convicted in any case, they suggested a statement be written against her. They have already succeeded doing this in two instances.
For example in 2005 – 2007 Bogatenkova gave legal aid in Vladikavkaz to former military servicemen to assist them in establishing the fact that they had served in a region where a counter terrorism operation was ongoing. A special agreement was drawn up between the sides, and those in receipt of help gave Bogatenkova power of attorney. Bogatenkova prepared the lawsuits and took part in the court proceedings, but the judges dismissed the claims.
Now two of these individuals have written a declaration that Bogatenkova had allegedly misled them and cheated them financially. (That is, according to them, there was fraud regarding the fee for the legal aid).
The demand by the lawyer and Bogatenkova herself that the civil case be withdrawn from the military court of Vladikavkaz for the purpose of establishing whether legal aid had in fact been given have been ignored by the relevant officials.
Analogous attempts were undertaken by unknown persons with regard to the mother of a conscript shot by an officer. Bogatenkova helped her with the trial proceedings related to a claim for damages from the Ministry of Defence.
Bogatenkova thinks that information about the addresses of the citizens who applied to her for help was obtained by the police in the course of their search of the office of the NGO Mothers of Prikumye. According to Bogatenkova’s lawyers, the search was conducted in violation of the procedure regarding the confiscation of documents. Complaints submitted by lawyers to the Budenovsk town court have been left unanswered.
At the moment, in spite of poor health, Liudmila Bogatenkova has resumed work and is continuing to offer legal aid to military servicemen.
We believe that the law enforcement agencies of the Stavropol region are attempting to criminalise Bogatenkova’s lawful activities with regard to legal aid to military personnel and other citizens.
We consider this to be a continuation of unlawful prosecution.
We note: 73-year-old Liudmila Bogatenkova was arrested and detained on 17th October 2014 after a search of her office. Despite the fact that Bogatenkova was unwell and she called for an ambulance several times, the officers in charge of the cells where she was held refused to pass on to her any medication.
On the Saturday, with the participation of a lawyer on duty, a judge took the human rights activist into custody. In connection with this a special transfer was organised to the pre-trial detention centre in Pyatigorsk. Moreover, the criminal investigator charged the human rights activist with fraud (Article 159, Section 3), only after she had been remanded in custory.
On 20th October, thanks to the reaction of the public, human rights activists and the mass media, and the intervention of the Presidential Human Rights Council, the Bogatenkova was granted bail on condition of travel restrictions.
We consider that the prosecution of Bogatenkova is retribution for her activities in the fields of human rights and peace-making.
According to human rights activists, the reason for the prosecution is that in August Liudmila Bogatenkova gave the Presidential Council for Human Rights information about the death of ten contracted military servicemen of the 18th motorised rifle brigade (troop unit 27777), and also that the human rights activist gave legal advice to soldiers serving on contract who did not want to take part in possibly illegal military activities, and concerning their right to refuse to carry out illegal orders.
According to human rights activists, there are grounds to believe that it is for these reasons that a criminal case is being fabricated against Bogatenkova. We strongly urge you to ensure that these criminal cases against Bogatenkova are immediately dropped because of the complete lack of evidence.
Signed in electronically by:
Aletkin, German, NGO of parents of conscripts in Tatarstan “For the Sons”
Babynina, Valentina, human rights activist from Krasnodar region
Burmitsky, Maksim, human rights group “Citizen. Army. Justice”.
Vakhnina, Liudmila, Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow
Garlivanova, Liubov, Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Astrakhan region
Kalikh, Andrei, journalist.
Karakina, Elena, Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Kostroma
Kizilova, Irina, Perm Memorial
Kotlyar, Tatiana, deputy of Obninsk city assembly
Markelova, Nelly, Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Lesna, Sverdlovsk region
Mikhailova, Lidia, Council of Parents of Military Personnel, Udmurtiya
Mikhailova, Tatiana, Soldiers’ Mothers, Livna, Orlov region
Paikacheva, Irina, Murmansk Memorial
Ponomareva, Nina, Volgograd human rights NGO for parents of military personnel Mothers’ Justice
Salin, Anatoly, Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Astrakhan region
Samarin, Ivan, Centre for the Legal and Medical Support of Conscripts, Moscow
Sviridova, Lidia, president of the Saratov Union of Soldiers’ Mothers
Smirnova Natalya, Committee of soldiers’ mothers, Kostroma
Tagankina, Nina, executive director, Moscow Helsinki group, Moscow
Tikhomirov, Yury, Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Kostroma
Feldstein Emma, director, Human Rights’ Centre, Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod region
Translated by Frances Robson
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