Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Andrey Yakimov, a staff member of Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (ADC Memorial).
According to the information received, on November 13, 2012, police officials arrested Mr. Andrey Yakimov while he was leaving a peaceful rally held in Saint Petersburg in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the death of Timur Kacharava, a young antifascist activist who was stabbed to death on November 13, 2005.
On November 2, 2012, three individuals, including Mr. Yakimov, informed the prefecture that the said peaceful rally would be held, in accordance with the law . The said declaration mentioned the participation of 20 persons. On November 8, 2012, they received the agreement of the municipal authorities.
On November 13, 15 persons reportedly attended the rally as participants. Other individuals only passed by to visit the spot where Timur Kacharava was murdered in 2005, in order to leave flowers. The only other persons present during the permitted period (5pm-7pm) were journalists, whose function was to cover the event and cannot be considered as participants. It is to be noted that, from the beginning of the commemorative rally, members of the police present were rude with some participants.
It is to be further noted that one of the participants reportedly heard a policeman saying in his walkie-talkie that one of the organisers was detained, though at that time all participants who had planned to participate in the gathering were present at the specified location.
Finally, ten minutes before the official ending of the rally, while the participants started to head toward the underground station, a police officer stopped Mr. Andrey Yakimov and told him to stay with them for a few minutes in order to sign a document, enjoining him to sit in a police vehicle. However, as soon as Mr. Yakimov did so, the car left and took him to the police station. Once at the police station, a police file was opened, charging Mr. Andrey Yakimov for “exceeding the number of participants initially planned for a rally”, in contravention with Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences (“Violating the Established Procedure for Arranging or Conducting a Meeting, Rally, Demonstration, Procession or Picket”). Mr. Yakimov was finally released later on the same day.
In the police record, Mr. Andrey Yakimov insisted that not more than 20 participants were present at the rally. This information was confirmed later by witnesses in court. Moreover, it is to be highlighted that, on May 18, 2012, the Constitutional Court issued a resolution stating that the organisers of a rally could not be held responsible in case the number of declared participants would be exceeded. However, and despite the lack of evidence incriminating him, a first hearing was scheduled on November 14, 2012 before Court 209 (Mirovoy sud, 209 Uchastok), and the judge decided to postpone it to November 26, 2012 in order to call the police officers to testify as witnesses of the prosecution.
In addition, after the gathering was over, police officers started to ransack the commemoration place. As a participant, Mr. Vitaliy Leonov, tried to protect the flowers and pictures from being wiped out, the police arrested him. An administrative case was opened against him, accusing him of “disobedience” and charging him under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code. As he lives in the city of Barnaul, his trial will be held there. Mr. Leonov was kept in detention overnight at the police station before being released.
The Observatory strongly condemns these arrests and the judicial harassment of Messrs. Yakimov and Leonov, which take place in the context of general crackdown led by the authorities against civil society activists, including human rights defenders, and urges the Russian authorities to drop all charges against them immediately.
Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Andrey Yakimov and Vitaliy Leonov as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;
ii. Put an end to any act of harassment, including judicial harassment, against Messrs. Andrey Yakimov and Vitaliy Leonov as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iii. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:
its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
its Article 5, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels (a) to meet or assemble peacefully”;
its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”,
and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of their activities, and in particular With Article 2.i), in which the Committee calls on member States to “create an environment conducive to the work of human rights defenders, enabling individuals, groups and associations to freely carry out activities, on a legal basis, consistent with international standards, to promote and strive for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any restrictions other than those authorised by the European Convention on Human Rights;
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.
· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23, Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408
· Mr. Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of the Interior, Ulitsa Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34, 121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 495 644 2203
· Mr. Alexander Gennadievich Khloponin, Representative of the President in North Caucasus federal region, Tel: +7793) 97-34-67
· Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Tel: +7 495 607-19-22 / 607-34-67, E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Michail Fedotov, Head of the Council under the President for development of civil society and human rights, Tel: +7 495 606-41-84,Fax: +7 495 606-48-55; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fedotov_MA@gov.ru
· Mr. Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigations Committee of the Russian Federation, Building 28, house 15, Naberezhnaya Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow, 105005, Russia, Tel: + 7 495 640 10 48
· H.E. Mr. Alexey Borodavkin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, E-mail : email@example.com, Fax: +41 22 734 40 44
· Ambassador Mr. Alexandra Romanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 66, avenue de Fre, Brussels, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, November 23, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
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