The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.
According to the information received, on March 16, 2016, Mr. Igor Kalyapin was informed by the manager of the Grozny Citi Hotel, where he was staying, that he had to leave the hotel, reportedly because of Mr. Kalyapin’s criticisms against Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya. As he was leaving the hotel, a group of around 15 masked men threw flour, eggs and a bright disinfectant at him. Mr. Kalyapin reported having been kicked by the assailants several times, including in the stomach.
Mr. Kalyapin was about to attend a press conference in Grozny to discuss the attack that took place on March 9, 2016 against members of the Joint Mobile Group and journalists (see background information). He left Chechnya after reporting the assault to the police. The Observatory was also informed that another flat used by the JMG in Grozny (flat which belonged to human rights defender Natalia Estemirova, killed in 2009) was also raided. A video footage reportedly shows persons in plain clothes and in uniforms of the Ministry of Emergency Situations breaking the door of the apartment. Subsequently, access to the flat was reportedly blocked.
The Observatory considers these new attacks as a clear acts of reprisals for the activities carried out by Mr. Kalyapin, the JMG and the Committee for Prevention of Torture.
The Observatory calls on the authorities of the Chechen Republic and more generally of the Russian Federation to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Igor Kalyapin, members of the JMG and members of the Committee for Prevention of Torture, and to put an end to any verbal and physical attacks and acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Chechnya.
The JMG has already been subjected to attacks in the past.
On December 5, 2014, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Grozny where 26 people lost their lives, Mr. Kadyrov announced on his website and on social networks that the houses of all militants shall be burned, and their entire families expelled from Chechnya. In connection with these statements, on December 8, 2014, Mr. Kalyapin requested the Prosecutor General to start criminal proceedings against Mr. Kadyrov for violating the Criminal Code (“abuse of power”, Art. 286) and several articles of the Constitution (notably on the presumption of violence, freedom of movement, the right to private property and the right to housing).
On December 10, 2014 the Head of the Chechen Republic, Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov accused Mr. Kalyapin on Instagram of supporting recent terrorist attacks in Chechnya. He notably suggested that Mr. Kalyapin received foreign funds from sources linked to Mr. Ahmad Umarov, the brother of the late Doku Umarov, the self-proclaimed Emir of the Caucasus Emirate and arch-rival of Mr. Kadyrov. Mr Kalyapin was subsequently attackedduring his press conference in Moscow on December 11, 2014. On December 18, following statements of Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Investigative Committee opened an investigation against Mr. Kalyapin.
On December 13 and 14, 2014, the offices of JMG in Grozny (Chechnya) were set ablaze. Activists were captured and searched by masked armed men.
On June 3, 2015, the offices of the JMG in Grozny were again violently attacked and destroyed by an organised mob.
These attacks were committed openly and videotaped, yet they remain unpunished.
On March 9, 2016, masked assailants in three cars blocked a small bus carrying two members of the Joint Mobile Group as well as six foreign and Russian journalists near the border of Chechnya, violently beat them with bats, robbed them and set the vehicle on fire. According to reports, the attackers called the defenders and journalists by their names, and accused them to be in Chechnya to “defend terrorists”.
The human rights defenders and journalists were participating in a tour organised by the Committee for Prevention of Torture to report on human rights violations in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Reportedly, the group had noticed they were under surveillance since the start of their tour, on March 7.The police investigating the bus attack reportedly did not find any trace of the computers carried by the group in the bus, which would indicate that the assailants took them.
Several hours after the attack, a group of unidentified camouflaged armed men who came in five cars also broke in JMG’s offices in the Ingush town of Karabulak and stole several computers and material. The Observatory fears that the aim of the attacks was not only to intimidate and violently assault the activists and journalists, but also to take possession of their data.
Victims included Mr. Ivan Zhiltsov and Ms. Ekaterina Vanslova, two members of the Committee for Prevention of Torture; Mr. Oeystein Windstad, a correspondent from the Norwegian Ny Tid newspaper; Ms. Lena Maria Persson Loefgren, a Swedish public radio journalist; Ms. Aleksandra Elagina from The New Times, Mr. Egor Skovoroda from Mediazona, freelance journalist Mikhail Solunin and Mr. Anton Prusakov, from the Kommersant newspaper, as well as the bus driver.
Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Igor Kalyapin, all members of the Joint Mobile Group and the Committee for Prevention of Torture, as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;
ii. Carry out a prompt, effective and independent investigation into the above-mentioned attacks,
iii. Put an end to any act of harassment and verbal and physical attacks against the JMG, the Committee for Prevention of Torture, their members, including Mr. Igor Kalyapin, as well as all human rights defenders in Chechnya and more generally the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance;
iv. 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 Articles 1 and Article 12.2;
v. 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);
vi. 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, Faxes: + 7 495 606 5173; + 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408
· Mr. Yurii Ya. Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Fax: +7 495 692 17 25, Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25
· Mr. Alexander Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Fax: +7 495 955 59 99. Electronic appeals via website: http://minjust.ru/electronic-appeal/email
· Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203
· Ms. Ella Pamfilova, Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Mikhail Fedotov, Head of the Council under the President for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. Fax: +7 495 606-48-55. E-mail: email@example.com, fedotov_MA@gov.ru
· H.E. Mr. Alexey Borodavkin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Ambassador Alexander Romanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: email@example.com
· Ambassador Alexander Alekseev, Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.
Geneva-Paris, March 23, 2016
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
RUS 004 / 1214 / OBS 093.1
Attacks / Harassment
March 23, 2016
 The bright disinfectant was brilliant green, a dilute alcoholic solution sold in pharmacies as antiseptic, severely injurious when in contact with eyes.