Continued arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against Mr. Philip Kostenko - RUS 001 / 0112 / OBS 001

03/01/2012
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.


Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against Mr. Philip Kostenko, a member of the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) “Memorial”, Saint Petersburg, who was due to be released on January 5, 2012 following his sentencing to 15 days of administrative detention (see background information).

According to the information received, on January 4, 2012 at 11.30 am, the Vasileostrovsky District Court will decide on new measures of restraint against Mr. Kostenko in relation to new criminal proceedings started against him on “vandalism” charges under Article 214 p. 2 of Criminal Code of Russia for allegedly damaging an All-Russia People’s Front poster during the parliamentary electoral campaign in autumn 2011 in St. Petersburg.

The court may order his detention pending trial. In this case, he will be transferred from the administrative detention centre where he is now detained to a criminal pre-trial detention centre.

The Observatory condemns the continuing judicial harassment of Mr. Philip Kostenko since it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities and expresses its deep concern about the ongoing attempts to hinder the peaceful activities of human rights defenders.

The Observatory further recalls that it is the third set of charges brought against Mr. Philip Kostenko since his arrest on December 6, 2011 (see below).

Background information:

On December 6, 2011, Mr. Philip Kostenko was arrested in Saint Petersburg on accusation of “disobeying the orders of the police officers” and of “refusal to put an end to his participation in the rally” following his participation in a peaceful demonstration to denounce electoral irregularities and called for fair, free and independent electoral processes following the elections results on December 4, 2011.

On December 7, he was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 15 days of administrative detention. On December 10, the appeal lodged by his lawyer was rejected. On December 12, his lawyer lodged a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as both decisions (that of December 7 and December 10) were issued following serious procedural irregularities.

As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Kostenko is still detained in the special detention centre No. 6 of “Zakharievskaya” street, where he started a hunger strike on December 6, then joined by another detainee, in order to protest against the arbitrary detention of demonstrators and bad conditions of detention.

Moreover, on December 22, the 153rd court department sentenced Mr. Kostenko to an additional 15 days of detention for “disorderly conduct” under Article 20.1.1 of the Criminal Code after he allegedly swore before police officers on October 16, 2011. This decision was handed out a few minutes before Mr. Kostenko’s expected release.

After the new court decision Mr. Kostenko ceased his hunger strike as all people arrested during the protests against electoral fraud in St Petersburg had then been released.

The Observatory also recalls that Mr. Philippe Kostenko had already been arrested along with Ms. Anna Udyarova, another member of the ADC “Memorial”, on November 26, 2011, as they were picketing near the Embassy of Belarus to request the release of Mr. Ales Bialiatski, FIDH Vice-President and President of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus, and, more generally, all political prisoners in the region. They were later finally released during the night after eight to nine hours of detention following mobilisation in their favour, both at the national and international level. They were released under the condition that they appear before the police on November 28, 2011, at 11 am. At that time, they were informed by the police that they had been charged of two administrative offences, “illegal picketing” and “disobeying the police”, punishable by fines and administrative detention [1].


Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Philip Kostenko as well as of all members of the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Philip Kostenko 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.


Addresses:

· Mr. Dmitri Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23, Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408

· Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Rashid Nurgaliev, ul. 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 Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigations Committee of the Russian Federation, Building 28, house 15, Naberezhnaya Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow, 105005, Russian Federation

* Ambassador Mr. Valery Loshchinin, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, E-mail : mission.russian@vtxnet.ch, Fax: +4122 734 40 44
* Ambassador Mr. Alexandra Romanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 66 avenue de Fré, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: amrusbel@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.

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