Moldova / Region of Transnistria: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin

06/02/2020
Urgent Appeal

MDA 001 / 0120 / OBS 008
Arbitrary detention /
Restrictions to freedom of expression
Moldova / Region of Transnistria
February 6, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Moldova / Region of Transnistria.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Promo-LEX about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin, a whistleblower who informed about forced conscription and hazing in the army of the self-proclaimed “Moldovan Republic of Transnistria” (hereinafter MRT). The “MRT” is not internationally recognized; t is a breakaway part of Moldova under the effective control of Russia. Various United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms have repeatedly held Russia internationally responsible for human rights violations committed by the “MRT.” [1]

According to the information received, on December 18, 2019, Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin was abducted by “MRT” police when he visited his mother in the village of Pervomaisc. He remained in incommunicado detention for one month. On January 24, 2020, his mother was able to see her son in a pre-trial detention facility in Tiraspol, the capital of the “MRT”, but was not able to talk to him confidentially. On the same day in the afternoon Mr. Rjavitin called his mother and said that he was released from detention and transferred to the military unit no. 80691, located in the village of Parcani, from which he had escaped in 2015.

On January 27, 2020, his mother visited him in the military unit in Parcani, but again she was not able to speak with him confidentially. Mr. Rjavitin gave her a copy of a decision by the “Tiraspol city court of the MRT” terminating his pre-trial detention. The document confirmed that from December 18, 2019, to January 24, 2020, Rjavitin was in detention on suspicion of committing three criminal offenses in the “MRT” (“desertion”, “the unauthorized leave of the military unit” and “non-statutory relations”). [2] However, it is unclear on what legal ground Mr. Rjavitin was then transferred to the military unit.

Mr. Rjavitin was a conscript in the army of the “MRT” in 2015, when he fled to escape ill-treatment in the army. He then provided detailed information to human rights organizations and journalists [3] about forced conscription, hazing and ill-treatment in the army of the “MRT.” The authorities of the “MRT” instituted criminal proceedings against Rjavitin.

On February 4, 2020, “MRT” state television showed Mr. Rjavitin in camouflage uniform allegedly performing his compulsory military service in a unit of the “MRT” army. [4] Rjavitin stated that he had not been ill-treated and had no complaints but it is impossible to verify this because Mr. Rjavitin’s lawyer is based outside of the “MRT” and has no access to him, and his mother was not allowed to meet her son in private. [5]

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Rjavitin and subsequent transfer to a military unit in the “MRT”, which seems to be only aimed at sanctioning him for speaking out about ill-treatment in the army of the “MRT” and which exposes him to a high risk of renewed ill-treatment. The Observatory calls on the authorities of the “MRT”, the Moldovan authorities, and the Russian authorities, who are responsible for the violations committed in the “MRT” under international law, to do everything in their power to effect the immediate release Mr. Rjavitin and to close the criminal case against him. The Observatory further urges them to ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the “MRT” and Russia asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Alexandru Rjavitin from military unit no. 80691;

ii. Put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Rjavitin;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisations are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 5 (c) and 6;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Russia.

Addresses:

• Mr. Vadim Krasnoselskiy, “President of the MRT”, 3300 Tiraspol, 187 Karl Marx street, Email: psp@president.gospmr.org
• Mr. Igor Dodon, President of the Republic of Moldova, 2037 Chisinau, 154 Stefan cel Mare Bd, Email: cancelaria@prm.md
• Mr. Mihai Cotorobai, People’s Advocate of the Republic of Moldova, ombudsman@ombudsman.md;
• Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 606 3602; + 7 495 625 3581
• Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, twitter @GovernmentRF
• Mr. Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203
• Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
• Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
• Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email: russia.coe@orange.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Russia in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, February 6, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] See European Court of Human Rights, Cazac and Surchician v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia, 22365/10, judgment of 7anuary 7, 2020, § 47.
[2] On file with the Observatory.
[3] See < https://see-whistleblowing.org/netherworld-whistleblower-army-dissident-feared-tortured-in-underground-transnistrian-dungeon/?fbclid=IwAR35vbfn7CPRcUAohL7KpqmzOzLCHRCOS95Za3JAlmuqumQNPalOg8W3cYk > and < https://moldova.europalibera.org/a/28823281.html >
[4] < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4XgpPxH1Ls&fbclid=IwAR0qnX5jMNmGfhFLTJPOfZMswb9zTUpOAZEmBCuMUj98GBmRbroJ85ESnAc&app=desktop >
[5] One of the applicants in Cazac and Surchician v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (see footnote 1) testified after his release from the “MRT” that “MRT” officials had repeatedly threatened him to make a confession.

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