Alarming crackdown on Russian opposition figures

Press release
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12 June 2012: FIDH expresses grave concern about arrests and searches targeting opposition leaders on the eve of the March of Millions on 12 June, and condemns the Russian Federation’s enactment of a law criminalizing demonstrations.

While restrictive legislation is being adopted in a record time by the state’s legislative apparatus, repressive state practices are intensifying and harassment of opposition leaders continues.

On 11 June 2012, police searched the apartments of ten leading opposition figures under charges of organizing and participating in mass disorder on 6 May 2012 (Article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code). The private apartments of activists, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak, Sergei Udaltsov and Aleksei Navalny were reportedly searched. Police intervened abruptly armed with submachine guns early in the morning, confiscating computers and phones. Activists have also been summoned for interrogation on 12 June, and thereby prevented from attending the March of Millions protest set to take place on the same day.

On 10 June, a dozen young activists were also arrested and detained in Moscow. One of them, Alexandra Dukhanina, has been put under house arrest.

On 8 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified a set of amendments to the Administrative Code raising the maximum penalty for organisers of illegal protests to a 1 million rubles (24,600 euros) fine, with participants facing up to a 300,000 rubles (7,400 euros) fine. The amendments also prohibit organisers found to have violated the rules during past events from organising future events.

“The passing of this anti-protest law is unconstitutional because it blatantly contradicts Article 31 of the Russian Constitution (the right to freedom of assembly). The purpose of these new amendments, accompanied by the recent searches and detentions, is to intimidate organisers of the planned June 12 March of Millions, and to dissuade people from participating in further demonstrations”, declared FIDH President, Souhayr Belhassen.

On 6 May, the day before Putin’s inauguration as President for his third term, 20,000 people engaged in protests; around 400 protesters were arrested and 80 injured.

FIDH urges the Russian authorities to:

 immediately release all those detained for exercising their right to peaceful assembly;
 take concrete steps to create an environment conductive to freedom of expression in Russia, and stop misusing the law to silence critical voices; and
 respect and protect the rights to freedom of assembly and expression, guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, and international and regional standards binding upon Russia.


Photo made by Mitya Aleshkovsky ©

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