Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Russian Federation

Implementation of restrictive legislation against NGOs30

Amendments to three Russian laws relative to non-profit organisations came into force on April 17, 200631. They drastically restricted the potential activities of international or foreign NGOs in the country, strengthened registration procedures for national NGOs and strengthened the powers of the State to interfere in their activities. These amendments illustrate the strategy that the Russian authorities have implemented for several years to increase their control over independent civil society32.

On April 15, 2006, Decree no. 212 on "measures aimed at implementing certain provisions of the Federal laws regulating activities of non-governmental organisations" entered into force, after it was signed by the government. It establishes the list of documents required for NGO registration and for the communication of their narrative and financial reports. It also lists the documents that must be submitted in relation to the formation of an organisation's management. The mechanisms to control the activities of NGOs have not yet been decided upon. Under this decree, all national and foreign NGOs must provide their annual and financial reports for the past year to the registration services by April 15, while foreign and international NGOs must comply with this obligation every three months.

In addition, representatives of international and foreign NGOs were required to file their requests for re-registration before October 17, 2006 and to convey their provisional operational programmes for 2007 prior to October 31, 2006, or their activities would be suspended. Many international or foreign NGOs were denied legal recognition as a result of the tedious administrative procedures required by law, as well as the often pernicious attitude of the registration services which prevented them from complying with all mandatory requirements within the legal time frame33. As a result, the activities of several NGOs, such as the Dutch organisation Teaching Russian Justice Initiative34, were suspended, pending a re-examination of their case.

Finally, the federal registration and tax services are entitled to collect any information on all registered organisations before the entry into force of the above amendments, until January 1, 2008.

Repression of human rights defenders – Moscow

Assassination of Ms. Anna Politkovskaya35

Ms. Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist with the Russian biweekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was assassinated on October 7, 2006. Her body was found in the lift of her building in Moscow. Ms. Politkovskaya had been subjected to threats and reprisals as a result of her activities in the past years, in particular following her publications on Chechnya and North Caucasus.

In 2000, she had been arrested by Russian soldiers in the Chatoi region (Chechnya) for breaching a particularly restrictive regulation imposed on journalists. In February 2001, she had been detained for three days by Russian soldiers in the village of Khatuni (Chechnya) where she had been threatened with rape and death. In 2004, she was also poisoned while flying to Ossetia to participate in negotiations with the hostage-takers of the Beslan school.

Her assassination occurred as Novaya Gazeta was due to publish an article she had written on the use of torture in Chechnya, which directly incriminated Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Russian Prime Minister of Chechnya.

On October 8, 2006, the Public Prosecutor, Mr. Yuri Tchaika, opened an inquiry into her assassination. Despite the establishment of an expert group, no result had been made public by the end of 2006.

Smear campaigns and threats against several defenders36

Defamation campaign against human rights organisations

On January 22, 2006, during a broadcast entitled "Special Correspondent" on the State television channel Rossya, Mr. Sergei Ignatchenko, official representative of the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), accused several human rights NGOs, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Nizhnyi Novgorod Committee Against Torture, the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights and the Eurasia Foundation, of being financed by the British intelligence services and of working in their pay. These accusations were reiterated on January 23, 2006, on the two State television channels Rossya and Pervy kanal. The organisations mentioned denied the accusations and indicated that the funds they received were connected to specific legal projects.

The Moscow Helsinki Group filed a complaint for "libel" against the two channels. The next hearing was scheduled for January 22, 2007.

Threats against defenders

On March 31, 2006, members of Parliament affiliated to the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR, far-right party) published a list of "enemies of the Russian people", namely: Ms. Liudmila Alekseevna, president of the Moscow Helsinki Group; Mr. Alexandre Verkhovski, president of the Sova Centre of analytical data; Ms. Svetlana Gannushkina, a board member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and president of the Civic Assistance Committee (CAC); Mr. Sergey Kovalyov, president of Memorial; Mr. Valeri Borchov, a member of the executive board of the Russian office of the International Association for Religious Freedom and of the International Non-Governmental Platform on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Perpetrated in Chechnya; Ms. Anna Politkovskaya; Mr. Alexandre Brod and Mr. Vladimir Novitzki, members of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights; Mr. Evgueni Prochetchkin, a member of the Moscow Anti-Fascist Centre; Mr. Yuri Samodurov, director of the Sakharov Museum; and Ms. Natalya Taubina, president of Public Verdict, an NGO which provides legal assistance.

The document was released in reaction to the publication of a list of "100 neo-fascists" compiled by Mr. Marat Gelman, the owner of a contemporary art gallery, which was made public on March 24, 2006, and included the names of some LDPR members, such as Mr. Nikolai Kurianovitch, a Member of Parliament.

On October 22, 2006, Mr. Nikolai Kurianovitch sent a letter to Mr. Serguey Sobyanin, head of presidential services, requesting the exclusion of Ms. Svetlana Gannushkina from the Presidential Commission for the Promotion of Civic Society and Human Rights of which she was a member. The letter accused her of "protecting foreign criminal groups" and "discrediting the President in the eyes of the population".

In a letter sent to the Public Prosecutor, Mr. Kurianovitch also requested that the activities of CAC and Ms. Gannushkina be controlled.

Furthermore, in August 2006, a list of 89 persons considered as "traitors to the Nation" or "friends of foreigners" was published on the website of an ultra-nationalist group called "The Russian Will". The list included the addresses and personal details of the persons concerned, and explicitly called for their physical elimination. This list included the names of several human rights defenders, including Mr. Sergey Kovalyov and Ms. Gannushkina, who also received death threats by phone.

In a letter to the FSB and the Prokuratura37 dated August 27, 2006, Ms. Gannushkina requested that the people in charge of the website be charged with "terrorism" and "incitement to carry out extremist activities" (Articles 205 and 280 of the Criminal Code).

This request was dismissed on October 25, 2006 by the National Security Service, which stated that the threats were not explicit as the website had few visitors and was hosted abroad.

The website was closed on August 28 and reopened on November 20, 2006.

On October 30, 2006, the Prokuratura informed Ms. Gannushkina that on October 25, 2006 the Prosecutor for the central Moscow administrative district had opened an investigation into the alleged "death threats or attacks on physical integrity" (Article 119 of the Criminal Code) made against her only.

On November 1, 2006, responding to a letter from Ms. Ella Pamfilova, president of the Presidential Commission for the Promotion of Civil Society and Human Rights, the Prokuratura refused to open an investigation into alleged "incitement to extremist activities", "terrorism" and "incitement to carry out a terrorist act or public support to terrorism" (Article 205-2 of the Criminal Code), on the basis of a psycho-linguistic examination of the statements contained on the website "The Russian Will" carried out by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Academy of Sciences.

By the end of 2006, the Prokuratura was still reportedly investigating the threats against Ms. Gannushkina.

Obstacles to freedom of peaceful assembly

Arrests of several defenders during a demonstration38

On February 1, 2006, police forces dispersed a peaceful demonstration organised by Memorial and the All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights" in front of the FSB headquarters in Moscow to denounce the authorities' control over civil society organisations. Some twenty people were arrested, including Mr. Oleg Orlov, president of the executive board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Mr. Alexandre Gurianov, a member of Memorial, Mr. Valentin Gefter, a member of Memorial and head of the Human Rights Institute, Mr. Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights", as well as Ms. Elena Riabinina and Mr. Bakhrom Khramroyev, both CAC members.

They were taken to the Mechanski district police station in Moscow and released a few hours later. The organisers of the demonstration were subsequently fined one thousand roubles (30 euros) while the participants were fined 500 roubles (15 euros). They were all acquitted on appeal, except for Ms. Riabinina who had not appeared at the first hearing.

Crackdown on a rally in commemoration of the Beslan massacre and sentencing of Mr. Lev Ponomarev39

On August 29, 2006, the prefecture of the Moscow central district rejected the notification of a gathering scheduled for September 3, 2006 in Lubyanka Square in Moscow. The event was organised in commemoration of the second anniversary of the Beslan massacre and called for those responsible, including political and police authorities, to be brought to justice. The prefecture suggested that the rally take place at a different place or time under the pretext that other meetings were already scheduled there.

On September 1, 2006, Messrs. Lev Ponomarev and Evgeny Ikhlov, head of the information service of the All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights", lodged a complaint with the Taganski District Court in Moscow challenging that decision.

The gathering was maintained on September 3, 2006, as the organisers considered that the reasons advanced by the authorities were not valid. Upon arrival at Lubyanka Square, the demonstrators were surrounded by a large number of police officers. 13 people were arrested by members of the Special Forces and detained for several hours at the nearest police station.

On September 26, 2006, Mr. Lev Ponomarev was condemned to three days in prison by the Moscow Court no. 370 for organising a demonstration "without prior official authorisation" and was required to serve his sentence immediately.

On November 20, 2006, following an appeal filed by Messrs. Lev Ponomarev and Evgeny Ikhlov, the Taganski District Court acknowledged the invalidity of the decision banning the rally.

Obstacles to freedom of association

Acts of harassment against HRO40

On January 10, 2006, the federal registration services (under the authority of the Ministry of Justice) refused to register the modifications made to the board of directors of the Human Rights On-line Research Centre (HRO), which brings together twelve Russian human rights organisations, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Centre for the Reform of Criminal Jurisdictions, the Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers and the Association for the Defence of the Rights of Disabled Persons. HRO was denied registration on the grounds that the Ministry considered as illegal the decision taken by HRO on November 2, 2004 to appoint permanent board members.

On January 25, 2006, the federal registration services requested the closure of HRO under the pretext that the organisation had not provided its annual reports between 1999 and 2005. The request was dismissed by the Basmany District Court in Moscow on April 10, 2006.

Official warning against Memorial41

On February 26, 2006, the Prokuratura issued a written warning to Memorial and its executive director, Ms. Elena Zhemkova, for violating the "Law on countering extremist activists".

The warning followed the publication on Memorial's website of an analysis of four leaflets edited by Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, a Muslim organisation banned in Russia. This analysis had been requested by Ms. Svetlana Gannushkina to verify the legal basis of dozens of criminal investigations launched since autumn 2004 against Russian citizens prosecuted for keeping, reading or publishing Hizb-Ut-Tahrir's four leaflets.

The Prokuratura based its warning on the conclusions of a "sociopsychological" study which was never made public or presented to Memorial and the authors of which were never identified. Memorial had to withdraw the analysis from its website within three days and replaced it with an explanation of the case and a brief summary of its conclusions.

Fiscal harassment of the International Protection Centre42

On July 17, 2006, following an audit carried out by the Tax Inspectorate from November 25, 2005 to June 8, 2006, the International Protection Centre, which provides legal assistance to people appealing to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and other international legal bodies, was accused of tax evasion in relation to funds received from 2002 to 2004, and was ordered to pay 4,600,000 roubles (135,000 euros) in tax arrears and fines by the Tax Inspectorate.

On July 31, 2006, the Centre challenged this decision to the Moscow Tax Inspectorate no. 9 and stressed that the sums received were not taxable income, in accordance with domestic legislation. On August 29, 2006, the Tax Inspectorate decided to pursue the investigation before rendering its final decision, which was still pending by late December 2006.

Denial of re-registration of the Teaching Russian Justice Initiative43

On November 15, 2006, the federal registration services informed the Dutch human rights organisation Teaching Russian Justice Initiative that its Moscow office44 had been denied re-registration, on the grounds that the documents presented for its registration were not signed by competent authorities and included various errors. This decision was based on the provisions of the new Law on NGOs45.

Since then, the organisation has submitted a revised version of its documentation in order to re-register. The statute of its Moscow office remained uncertain as of the end of 2006.

Repression of human rights defenders – Saint-Petersburg

Assassination of Mr. Samba Lampsar and investigation into the assassination of Mr. Nikolai Girenko46

On April 7, 2006, Mr. Samba Lampsar, a student and an active member of the NGO African Unity, was assassinated by an unidentified individual in Saint-Petersburg, while returning with several other members of the organisation from a weekly celebration of intercultural friendship between Russians and foreigners. His assailant was waiting in a doorway next to the club where the meeting was held, and suddenly stood in the students' way shouting nazi slogans. As the students tried to run away, he shot in their direction and killed Mr. Lampsar before escaping. The alleged murder weapon, decorated with a swastika and the inscription "White Power", was found nearby.

An investigation was opened by the State Prosecutor for "hate crime" under Article 105-2 of the Criminal Code.

On May 24, 2006, the Prokuratura announced that criminal investigations had been launched against 13 people for various offences, including crime. It subsequently turned out that this group – whose leaders, Mr. Alexei Voyevodine, already sentenced to three years in prison for participating in the extremist group Mad Crowd, and Mr. Dmitri Borovikov, killed during his arrest on May 18, 2006, were suspected of being responsible for Mr. Samba Lampsar's murder – was also suspected of being involved in the assassination of Mr. Nikolai Girenko, chair of the Minority Rights Commission of the Saint-Petersburg Scientific Union and president of the Ethnic Minority Rights Association, on June 19, 200447.

Investigations into both murders were still pending by the end of 2006.

Attack against Mr. Dmitri Dubrovski48

On November 15, 2006, Mr. Dmitri Dubrovski, a professor at the European University of Saint-Petersburg and a specialist in interethnic relations, was threatened and assaulted by two youths on his way home, after attending a conference on tolerance at the Smolny Institute of Free Arts and Sciences. Mr. Dubrokvski pressed charges the following day.

No investigation had been launched as of late December 2006.

Continued threats against Mr. Ruslan Linkov49

In 2006, Mr. Ruslan Linkov, a member of the Democratic Russia Association and former assistant to the democratic party member of Parliament, Ms. Galina Starovoitova, who was assassinated in November 1998, again received death threats by email and telephone.

In April 2005, numerous threats against Mr. Linkov had already been published on nationalist websites and on the Saint-Petersburg news website.

As a result Mr. Linkov had repeatedly appealed to the police and the Prokuratura. Two investigations were finally opened in June and October 2006 and were still pending in late 2006.

Repression of human rights defenders – Region of Nizhnyi-Novgorod

Sentencing of Mr. Stanislav Dmitrievski50

On January 11, 2006, Mr. Vladimir Demidov, Prosecutor for the Nizhnyi Novgorod region, publicly asserted that Mr. Stanislav Dmitrievski, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pravozaschita and executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), who was being prosecuted for "incitement to hatred or hostility", would be convicted. Mr. Demidov further added that his office was going to "push for the recognition of his criminal responsibility" and that public authorities should "allow no attempt to destabilise the situation".

On February 3, 2006, Mr. Dmitrievski received a suspended sentence of two years in prison and four years of probation for "incitement to racial hatred" by the Sovetsky District Criminal Court (Nizhnyi-Novgorod). Although the trial was held in camera, some observers were present, including one mandated by the European Union. He was also prohibited from changing his address and ordered to report regularly to the local authorities.

Mr. Dmitrievski was condemned after Pravozaschita, a joint publication of RCFS and the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Society for Human Rights (NNSHR), released statements by Mr. Akhmed Zakaev and Mr. Aslan Maskhadov, two Chechen separatist leaders, calling for a peaceful resolution of the Russian-Chechen conflict.

On April 11, 2006, the appeals lodged by Mr. Dmitrievski and the Prosecutor, who considered the verdict too lenient, were dismissed by the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Regional Court.

Ongoing judicial proceedings and dissolution of RCFS51

Fiscal harassment

On January 27, 2006, the criminal proceedings initiated in September 2005 against RCFS for "failure to pay taxes" (Article 1991 of the Criminal Code) were suspended on the decision of the frauds department of the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Tax Inspectorate which ruled that no offence was made out on the facts.

On November 16, 2006, the Tax Inspectorate submitted a request to the Court of Arbitration to reopen the proceedings. This request was initially acknowledged by the Court, before being dropped by the Tax Inspectorate pending the final verdict regarding the dissolution of the organisation.


On October 13, 2006, the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Regional Court ordered RCFS closing down on the basis of Article 19 of the Federal Law on NGOs which provides that "a person who was sentenced under the Law on countering extremist activists cannot be the co-founder of an organisation", in reference to Mr. Dmitrievski's conviction. Furthermore, the court based its decision on Article 15 of the Law on countering extremist activities, which provides that "if the head or a member of an NGO makes a public statement in which he or she calls for an extremist act or if he or she is sentenced for an extremist act, his or her organisation must publicly disapprove those facts within the following five days [...]; failure to do so by the organisation will be considered as an extremist act".

On October 19, 2006, RCFS appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

The next hearing was scheduled for January 23, 2007.

Repression of human rights defenders – Dagestan

Acts of torture and ongoing harassment against Mr. Osman Bolyev and members of Romachka52

On November 15, 2005, Mr. Osman Bolyev, president of the human rights organisation Romachka ("Daisy"), had been arrested and charged with "illegal purchase, detention or carrying of weapons" (Article 222-1 of the Criminal Code) after federal services found, in his car, a grenade which had presumably been planted there by the policemen. Mr. Bolyev had been remanded in custody and ill-treated during his detention.

He was released on February 13, 2006.

On February 21, 2006, the hearing was postponed due to his health condition. Mr. Bolyev had been subjected to ill-treatment and acts of torture at the Khassaviourt police station right after his arrest. However, the authorities refused to open an investigation into this matter.

On May 18, 2006, Mr. Bolyev was ultimately acquitted. However, on the following day, the judge of the Khasavyurt Court who rendered the decision in the case was dismissed from his position.The Prokuratura of Dagestan lodged an appeal against his acquittal, which had still not been examined as of the end of 2006.

On June 13, 2006, new judicial proceedings were initiated against Mr. Bolyev for "illegal purchase, possession or carrying of weapons" and for "participation in an armed group" (Article 208-2 of the Criminal Code).

Mr. Bolyev consequently decided to leave his country in mid-July and took refuge abroad.

However, by late December 2006, FSB agents interrogated Romachka representatives and accused Mr. Bolyev of being involved in a case of money laundering, after Mr. Bolyev made a public statement during the presentation of the Peace Nobel Prize in Oslo (Norway) on December 10, 2006.

The Ministry of Justice for Dagestan and the FSB also initiated an audit of the organisation's accounts. No result of this audit had been made public as of the end of 2006.

Repression of human rights defenders – Ingushetia

Ongoing acts of harassment against CCNS53

On August 2, 2004, proceedings had been initiated by the Prokuratura of Ingushetia against the Chechen Committee for National Salvation (CCNS) to request that the extremist character of its press releases be recognised.

Although those proceedings were deemed groundless in October 2004, the Supreme Court for Civil Matters of Ingushetia ruled on February 10, 2005 that the appeal brought against this decision by the Prokuratura was admissible. The case was remitted to the Nazran Regional Court.

On April 28, 2006, the Prokuratura requested that a psychological assessment of the CCNS press releases incriminated be carried out by the University of Kabardino-Balkari, although CCNS had already provided the Court with the conclusions of a psycho-linguistic assessment carried out by the same university and which had stated that the press releases did not contain extremist elements.

Since then, the hearings have been constantly adjourned and the case remained pending in late 2006.

Violent crackdown on a peaceful gathering, arrests and sentencing of several defenders54

On October 16, 2006, the forces of the Ministry of the Interior for Ingushetia dispersed a rally held in the memory of Ms. Anna Politkovskaya55 in Nazran, on the grounds that it had not been officially authorised. Police officers grabbed the demonstrators' placards featuring pictures of Ms. Politkovskaya and threw them to the ground. Ms. Ekaterina Sokerianskaya, a collaborator with Memorial's office in Nazran, was injured and had to be taken to hospital with a broken nose.

On October 16, 2006, several organisers of this gathering, including Mr. Albert Khantygov, Ms. Fatima Yandieva, Ms. Zoya Muradova and Ms. Zarema Mukucheva, Memorial representatives, and Mr. Magomed Mutsolgov, an officer of the Association of Families and Friends of Disappeared Persons Machr ("Peace"), were arrested and taken to the police station. They were not allowed to talk to their lawyers for nine hours. Furthermore, Ms. Tamara Tzechoeva, a lawyer, was violently pushed away by the police officers.

On the night of October 16 to 17, 2006, a judge convicted and fined Ms. Yandieva, Ms. Muradova and Ms. Mukucheva, in the absence of their lawyers, to a 500 roubles fine each (15 euros) for "violating the regulations in relation to the organisation of a meeting".

On October 31, 2006, Mr. Albert Khantygov, Ms. Yandieva, Ms. Muradova and Ms. Mukucheva were discharged by the judge of Nazran for lack of evidence. However, Mr. Magomed Mutsolgov was convicted for "violating the rules in relation to the organisation of a meeting" (Article 20-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences) and sentenced to a 1,000 roubles fine (30 euros). He appealed that ruling on November 10, 2006. The Nazran Court upheld the verdict on December 20, 2006.

Their lawyers subsequently submitted a request to the general Prokuratura and to the Russian delegate for human rights requesting the instigation of judicial proceedings against the police officers who had denied the detainees access to their lawyers. The general Prokuratura opposed the request in late November 2006, before opening an investigation in early December 2006, following an appeal against its decision.

As of the end of 2006, there was still no outcome from the investigation.

Furthermore, following a complaint lodged against police forces, Ms. Ekaterina Sokerianskaya was interrogated in relation to her injuries by an investigator of the Nazran Prokuratura on October 31, 2006. However, during the medical examination, the doctors who had obviously been subjected to pressure, indicated that she had broken her nose two weeks earlier. Ms. Sokerianskaya therefore had to drop her complaint.

Repression of human rights defenders – Chechnya

Threats against Ms. Lida Yusupova56

On October 12, 2006, Ms. Lida Yusupova, a lawyer, member of the Memorial Centre in Grozny, laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2004 and of the Rafto Prize in 2005, received a phone call threatening her with death by an individual who spoke Chechen and told her "You're pleased to be a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize? Presuming you'll still be alive then!"

Defamation campaign against Mr. Timur Aliev57

On October 13, 2006, NTV, one of the main pro-governmental Russian television channels, broadcast a show entitled "Humanitarian Question" during which members of humanitarian and human rights organisations were assimilated to terrorists. In particular, Mr. Timur Aliev, coordinator for Chechnya of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Chechen Society, was presented as a collaborator of Mr. Chamil Bassayev, the former Chechen military leader assassinated in July 2006.

Acts of harassment against the Grozny section of RCFS58

On the morning of December 25, 2006, three individuals in camouflage outfits arrived at the Grozny section of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) and asked questions about the organisation's activities. The individuals presented themselves as members of "Ramzan Kadyrov's service", the pro-Russian Prime Minister of Chechnya, but refused to disclose their exact identity or present documents attesting to their exact role. They also asked when the section's director, Mr. Danilbek Apayev, would return to the office. However, they did not return at the time indicated by an officer of the organisation.

Repression of human rights defenders – Bashkiria

Suspension of the activities of the NGO International Standard59

On October 18, 2006, the registration services of Bashkiria submitted to the Regional Supreme Court a request for the dissolution of the organisation International Standard, which provides legal support to persons whose rights have been violated by the authorities. The organisation was accused of failing to present all of the documents required by the registration and tax departments in 2005, and of not communicating its change of address to those departments. This notification followed controls carried out by the Tax Inspectorate, the Prokuratura, and the Ministry of Justice since March 2006.

On October 20, 2006, Ms. Natalya Karaeva, head of the organisation, again sent all the organisation's activity reports since 2005.

On November 24, 2006, the Supreme Court of Bashkiria dismissed the registration department's request for dissolution on grounds of technical irregularities, arguing that such a procedure should have been initiated in the District Court. The following day, the registration department decided to suspend the organisation's activities for one month. On November 29, 2006, a revised and amended version of the NGO statutes was sent to the registration department, which had not delivered any response by the end of 2006.

Repression of human rights defenders – Region of Sverdlovsk

Arbitrary arrest of Mr. Vladimir Chakleïne60

On March 17, 2006, Mr. Vladimir Chakleïne, president of the Sverdlovsk regional office of the All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights", was arrested for the "verification of information" during a rally convened in front of the Sverdlovsk Court in Ekaterinburg, which he had organised in support of Mr. Mikhail Trepachkine, a lawyer arbitrarily sentenced to four years in prison on April 15, 2005. Mr. Chakleïne was taken to the Ekaterinburg police station where he was charged with "administrative offence" (Article 20-2-2 of the Code of Administrative Offences). He was then led to the Verkh-Istski District Court in Ekaterinburg. His trial was adjourned to March 30, 2006 due to his health condition.

On March 21, 2006, Mr. Chakleïne wrote to the judge and the Prosecutor of the Sverdlovsk region, the Mayor of Ekaterinburg, and the human rights officer of the Sverdlovsk region, to denounce the irregularities which occurred during his arrest.

On May 6, 2006, Mr. Chakleïne was sentenced to a 1,000 roubles fine (about 30 euros).

Arrest and acts of violence against Mr. Vassili Melnitchenko61

On October 22, 2006, Mr. Vassili Melnitchenko, president of the Kamychlov Centre for Social Initiatives, head of the local section of the All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights" and a journalist for the human rights publication Popular Power Territory, was violently beaten by Mr. Alexei Gaan, a former investigator to the Prosecutor's office and four bodyguards. A few days before, Mr. Gaan had been dismissed from his position after Mr. Melnitchenko denounced his involvement in cases of corruption. Mr. Melnitchenko had to be urgently hospitalised and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Mr. Melnitchenko filed a complaint when he left the hospital on October 24, 2006. However, no proceedings had been initiated against Mr. Gaan by the end of 2006.

On November 15, 2006, Mr. Melnitchenko was summoned to the Prosecutor's office and accused of harassing Mr. Gaan.

On December 27, 2006, he was further arrested upon his arrival in Ekaterinburg and taken to the Kamychlov regional police station, where he was placed under arrest for 48 hours and accused of "heavy extortion" (Article 159-4 of the Criminal Code). He was arrested after addressing the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation on the issue of the illegal appropriation of farmlands by organised criminal groups.

He was released later that day following intense mobilisation by civil society organisations and the State representative for human rights.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

30. See Annual Report 2005 and Press Release, January 20, 2006.

31. Those laws are: Federal Law no. 7 of January 12, 1996 on non-profit organisations, Federal Law no. 82 of May 19, 1995 on public associations, and Law of July 14, 1992 on closed territorial administrative entities.

32. For a detailed description of those amendments, see Annual Report 2005 and Explanatory Note of January 20, 2006.

33. See Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights.

34. See above.

35. See Press Release, October 16, 2006.

36. See Press Releases, January 16, February 3 and October 17, 2006.

37. The Prokuratura includes investigating officers and prosecutors under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor.

38. See Human Rights Online Research Centre (HRO).

39. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeal RUS 003/0906/OBS 112.

40. See HRO and the Inter-Regional Association of Human Rights Organisations Agora.

41. See Annual Report 2005 and Open Letter to the Russian authorities, March 14, 2006.

42. Idem.

43. See HRO.

44. This Dutch organisation is also registered as a Russian organisation in Nazran, Ingushetia. It has been providing legal assistance to people in Chechnya since 2001, in particular in their appeals to the ECHR.

45. See above.

46. See Urgent Appeal RUS 001/0406/OBS 048.

47. See Annual Report 2005.

48. See Memorial Saint-Petersburg.

49. See Annual Report 2005.

50. See Annual Report 2005 and Press Releases, January 16 and February 3rd, 2006.

51. See Annual Report 2005 and Press Release, October 16, 2006.

52. Idem.

53. See Annual Report 2005.

54. See Press Release, October 17, 2006.

55. See above.

56. See Press Release, October 16, 2006.

57. See Press Release, October 17, 2006.

58. See RCFS.

59. See Agora.

60. See All-Russia Movement "For Human Rights".

61. See All-Russia Movement "For Human Rights" and HRO.


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