Help Oleg Kozlovsky!

Oleg Kozlovsky, Moscow coordinator of the political youth movement, Oborona, was detained on 6 May 2008 in Moscow and sentenced to 13 days of administrative arrest. Anna Polozova, Oleg’s lawyer, recounted the details of his arrest:

“On 8 May, I was asked to provide Oleg Kozlovsky with legal assistance after Moscow’s Basmanny district court sentenced him to 13 days of administrative arrest on 7 May 2008. I went to meet my client at the detention facility on Gilyarovsky Street to discuss his appeal to the sentence.

I arrived at the detention facility at around 7:20 PM. The guards took a long time to open the door to the facility. When I was let in, I saw that Oleg was being escorted away by several guards. I explained that I was his lawyer and that I had to discuss the particulars of the appeal with my client.

However, Oleg was forced into a car, and I was told that he was being taken to the main headquarters of the Moscow police at Petrovka Street 38. I demanded that I be given an opportunity to communicate with Kozlovsky and an explanation to why he was being moved to the police headquarters. I was denied access to my client.

The policemen insisted that I leave the premises of the detention centre. After Oleg was taken away, I stayed to submit a written complaint. I could not do this, either, as I was removed from the premises by force.

One of the policemen told me that Kozlovsky was moved because “they did not have spare places”. I asked how it was possible to detain a person for two days and then not to have a place for him. They started shouting at me, and one of them grabbed my arm and dragged me out.”

On 11 May, Anna Polozova reported that Oleg’s situation was getting worse and really called for attention. In her words, the police was, in effect, hiding him from everybody. She was denied access to her client again. The police claimed that Oleg was not being held at Petrovka 38.

The police refusied to accept requests to meet with Oleg from both his mother Marina and his lawyer. They refused to pass on bottled water to him; Oleg had declared hunger strike in protest at his unlawful detention.

Oleg Kozlovsky was detained on his way to the venue of the opposition’s planned March of Dissent in Moscow on 6 May 2008. The demonstration was cancelled at the last minute as the organisers had been notified that the police had orders use brute force to prevent the rally from taking place.

A number of prominent human rights defenders, including Lyudmila Alexeyeva and Lev Ponomaryov, began to mediate with the Moscow police and persuaded the organisers to cancel the March in order to avoid endangering participants.

The Moscow police chiefs promised that nobody would be detained if the organisers would cancel it on site. Denis Bilunov, executive director of Garry Kasparov’s United Civic Front, announced the cancellation of the event.

Yet the police did not keep their word and detained more than 70 people, including some passers-by. Many of them have been sentenced to various terms of administrative arrest.

There is a lot of video and photo footage of Kozlovsky’s detention showing how he was grabbed from behind by four people in plain clothes when he was walking with a few friends along Chistoprudny Boulevard and dragged into a police car.

Kozlovsky was not able to offer any resistance as the four plain-clothed men held him in air. However, judge at the Basmanny district court found him guilty in breaking Article 19 of the Administrative Code (resisting law-enforcement agencies). The alleged policemen did not introduce themselves or show their IDs.

Oleg Kozlovsky is now being held at the main headquarters of the Moscow city police at Petrovka Street 38. The police have unceremoniously arrested his supporters who have held one-man demonstrations demanding his release.

On 12 May, the Basmanny district court rejected the appeal against Oleg’s sentence; the judge refused to accept much of the evidence brought by the defence. Oleg’s lawyer, Anna Polozova, asks for media and expert attention to the fate of her client.

Late last year, Oleg Kozlovsky was illegally conscripted to the army. Police took Oleg from his home to face a military draft board, where a medical commission quickly found him fit to do military service. He was only released in early March this year, after 75 days in illegal detention..

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