November 16, 2018
Irina Biryukova, the lawyer at the Public Verdict Foundation, who revealed information about torture in the colonies of Yaroslavl to the media, received state protection. The same measures were taken about the daughter of the lawyer and former prisoner Evgeny Makarov. This is reported by the Foundation.
Biryukova learned about it from the head of the investigative group of the Investigative Committee of the ICR of the Yaroslavl region in the regional court, where employee of Colony No. 1 Sipan Mamoyan challenged his arrest. Mamoyan was detained on October 31, 2018. According to the investigation, he poured water on the beaten Makarov; it was filmed. The Court of Appeal confirmed the legality of the Mamoyan’s arrest.
The video of Makarov’s torture was published in the summer of 2018 by Novaya Gazeta. 17 employees of the colony were suspended from work, 13 of them were arrested by the court, and one was put under house arrest. The FSIN began checking the colonies and the SIZO throughout Russia.
The case of torture caused a great resonance. Biryukova received threats; the lawyer left Russia for some time. Then the ICR refused to provide state protection. In September, Biryukova returned to her homeland and continued to represent the interests of the prisoners.
November 13, 2018
A complaint over arrest of French musician Didier Marouani and his lawyer Igor Trunov during their meeting with Russian pop star Filipp Kirkorov in 2016 has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Trunov has told RAPSI.
In the application Trunov accuses police officers of unlawful operational-investigative activities, illegal arrest of the French musician, improper proceedings in an application seeking to open criminal cases against Kirkorov and failure to consider a statement against police officers.
The lawyer insists on the violation of Article 6 (Right to a fair trial), Article 13 (Lack of effective remedy) and Article 5 (Right to liberty and personal security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In November 2016, Marouani and Trunov were arrested by police on suspicion of extorting € 1 million from Kirkorov. Trunov has written a statement for the police demanding to open a criminal case against Kirkorov over false denunciation, and then against police officers. A year on, the Presnensky District Court of Moscow ordered the Investigative Committee to consider their demand to open a criminal case against police officers over illegal, according to the musician and his lawyer, arrest.
According to lawyer Lyudmila Aivar, the wife of Trunov, the French musician and her husband were arrested in a bank where they were to conclude an amicable agreement with Kirkorov in a copyright dispute. She said that Kirkorov and his lawyer offered € 1 million to Marouani as part of the settlement.
November 7, 2018
The car of a Russian human rights lawyer who is involved in cases against law enforcement agencies has been set on fire, a rights watchdog reports.
Lyudmila Aleksandrova, whose car was set on fire on November 4 near her house in the southern city of Krasnodar, is representing the only defense witness in the case of human rights activist Mikhail Benyash, Dublin-based Front Line Defenders said in a statement.
Benyash was arrested on September 9 in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest against Russia’s pension reform, it said. Benyash was beaten up by police and was sentenced for administrative offenses, and is currently facing allegations in two criminal cases.
Aleksandrova’s client witnessed the ill-treatment of Benyash by police officers.
Front Line Defenders said it believes that the arson attack was in a reprisal for Aleksandrova’s legal work in criminal and administrative cases against law enforcement agencies.
The group said Aleksandrova was also subjected to harassment between 2008 and 2016, and her license was withdrawn at one point following a criminal conviction for slander in connection to a complaint she sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin about police violence.
“Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the arson attack against the human rights defender Lyudmila Aleksandrova,” the group said.
October 28, 2018
Russian enforcement officers have carried out a second raid on a meeting of the human rights initiative Crimean Solidarity, with the actions of the masked men this time evidently aimed at instilling fear among all those present. Two Crimean Tatar lawyers Lilya Hemedzhy and Edem Semedlayev were issued ‘warnings’, as was civic activist Dilyar Memetov, one of the coordinators of Crimean Solidarity. Indeed, the brazen nature of the intrusion and of the officers’ ostentatious photographing of the participants elicits concern that this was a warning to all those who demonstrate solidarity with the victims of persecution.
At the meeting in Simferopol on 27 October, officials from the de facto prosecutor’s office turned up, together with unidentified individuals in masks, who later proved to be from the so-called Centre for Countering Extremism, and some uniformed police officers. The masked men hovered around photographing people, while the ‘prosecutor’s office’ officials accosted Hemedzhy, Semedlyaev and Memetov, who is the son of political prisoner, Remzi Memetov.
They claimed to have information about single-person pickets which the two lawyers and Memetov were organizing. Semedlyaev has posted the ‘warning’ in his name, which he considers to be pressure on him as a lawyer. The ‘warning’ is of the inadmissibility of infringing Russia’s law on ‘extremism’ and on protests. It claims that the ‘prosecutor ‘has received information that Crimean Tatar activists supporting Hizb ut-Tahrir, the peaceful pan-Islamic organization which it calls ‘terrorist’ are planning “mass protests under the guise of single-person pickets” in support of people suspected of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Statement against persecution of lawyers and human rights defenders in the occupied Crimea
October 24, 2018
On 23 October 2018, the Krasnodar Regional Court overturned a two-month pre-trial detention order of Mikhail Benyash and ordered his release subject to a 600 000 RUB bail (almost 8 000 EUR). The human rights defender is expected to be released soon.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Russia to investigate the allegations of ill-treatment of Mikhail Benyash while in police custody, to drop all criminal charges and quash the convictions in the administrative cases against him, as it is believed that they are solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.
On 10 October 2018, Krasnodar Regional Court upheld the administrative court’s sentence of human rights defender Mikhail Benyash. He was sentenced to 40 hours of mandatory work on charges of violating rules for the organisation of public protests. Multiple criminal charges against the human rights defender are still pending.
October 17, 2018
Aleksandr Golovach worked for watchdog known for publishing reports into illegal wealth of senior Russian politicians and officials
‘The detention of Aleksandr Golovach is the latest example of the Russian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders’ – Natalia Zviagina
Responding to this morning’s arbitrary detention by Russian police of Aleksandr Golovach, a lawyer for opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, on spurious charges of breaking a law on public gatherings, Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty International Russia, said:
“The detention of Aleksandr Golovach is the latest example of the Russian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and activists, and illustrates how they will resort to any excuse to target those who dare to criticise them.
“This case reveals that Russia’s repressive law on public assemblies is not only being used as a tool of wiping protests from the streets; it can also be a reason to arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone at any time.
“The police have used the draconian law as a false pretext under which to detain Golovach.
“For as long as Aleksandr Golovach is deprived of his rights to liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly solely in connection with his anti-corruption activism, he is a prisoner of conscience. He must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”
The Anti-Corruption Foundation
The Anti-Corruption Foundation is an NGO created by campaigner and opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and his supporters.
The corruption watchdog is known for publishing reports of alleged illegal wealth of senior Russian politicians and officials. On numerous occasions its staff and supporters have been subjected to intimidation, harassment and persecution by the Russian authorities.