Human rights activists demand an end to political repression in Russia

External Support to Democracy and Human Rights Movements: Proposing a Doctrine of a Right to Assist

Over 4,000 people detained during protests in support of Navalny on Saturday

A group of civil society activists and international human rights organizations launched a petition expressing alarm at the ongoing political repression in Russia. The message is addressed to the Council of Europe, OSCE, European Union, UN Human Rights Council and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In addition to the case of Alexei Navalny and his colleagues from the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the authors of the appeal called for attention to the case of MSU graduate student Azat Miftakhov, who was recently sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, as well as to the cases of dozens of convicts recognized as political prisoners. «Memorial», and numerous believers persecuted for their religious beliefs.

«The lack of a quick, unequivocal response from the international community to this new wave of repression could result in "green light" Russian authorities on the way to total terror», – indicated in the petition.

According to human rights activists, during Saturday’s protests in support of Navalny, over four thousand people have already been detained, more than one and a half thousand of them – in Moscow. Among the detained about 50 journalists.

Yan Rachinsky: «Unmotivated violence against civilians goes unpunished»

It’s no secret that the list of political prisoners arrested and detained for the peaceful expression of their views is constantly expanding in Russia, he noted in a commentary for the Russian Service «Voices of America» Chairman of the Board of the International Memorial Yan Rachinsky. According to him, in parallel, the number of repressive laws in the country is increasing, civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution are being limited everywhere..

«This is a fairly long-term trend, and, alas, nobody is surprised by it., – he stated. – In a number of cases, the actions of law enforcement agencies fit the definition of torture. And if we evaluate the picture as a whole, then it has been frankly demonstrated to us that unmotivated violence against civilians remains unpunished. Worst of all, the situation can get out of hand. Violence is easy to start, much harder to stop».

At the same time, Jan Raczynski found it difficult to predict how the situation will develop further: «However, it is clear that the authorities already quite clearly believe that citizens do not have the right to hold peaceful assemblies without the prior permission of the mayors. The Declaration on Human Rights interprets this in a fundamentally different way, just like the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. But so far, we do not see any signs that the authorities are going to change their approaches.».

As for the persecution of journalists during protest actions, the human rights activist thinks that this is not an accident and may well become a common thing..

«If (law enforcement officers) are instructed not to adhere to the framework of the law, then this applies to everyone, including to the same extent to journalists. Now the requirements of the law do not hold back the security officials in relation to the media workers. I believe that the use of violence and the abuse of police powers will continue to only expand in relation to everyone without exception. An increasing number of examples are convincing of this.», – summed up the chairman of the board of the International Memorial.

Igor Kalyapin: «As the story with Navalny began with complete arbitrariness, everything continues to develop.»

Human rights activists demand an end to political repression in Russia

Chairperson «Committee against Torture» Igor Kalyapin I agree that the level of political repression in Russia is constantly increasing. In his opinion, this is a fact, unfortunately, not subject to doubt..

«This, in particular, is evidenced by the huge number of recently initiated administrative and criminal proceedings., – added by the interlocutor of the Russian service «Voices of America». – Moreover, people are often prosecuted for the strangest, in my opinion, grounds. Thus, citizens are being held accountable on a massive scale for participating in uncoordinated rallies, which the authorities, according to established tradition, categorically refuse to approve under any pretext. All this is called repression.».

But the main problem is that repression is used without legal grounds, often illegally, says Igor Kalyapin: «For example, in Krasnodar, the call of a lawyer to his colleagues to provide legal assistance to those detained at rallies was considered a prize for participation in an uncoordinated event with all the ensuing legal consequences. In general, as the story with Navalny began with complete arbitrariness, everything continues to develop. To the detainees very often (I was a witness to this on January 23), lawyers are not allowed, they are kept in places not established by law. When, for example, representatives of the Observatory Commission (a human rights structure – V.V.), they are shown empty cells and told that they have no detainees. And then it turns out that dozens of people are locked up somewhere in the assembly hall.…»

Surprisingly, it is in Moscow that the security forces today often openly allow disproportionate use of physical force, the human rights activist testifies:

«I know of egregious cases when special means, the same stun guns, were used against people who did not offer any resistance. That is, a helpless person lies on the ground, he is held by several security officials, another one comes up and «sticks» the wretched stun gun…

And all this goes unpunished, which only encourages arbitrariness. When the police understand that they can act illegally, they perceive it as an encouragement, as something that is required of them to act precisely illegal. Though what they do is malfeasance and nothing else», – concluded the chairman «Committee against Torture»

Human rights activists demand an end to political repression in Russia

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