The Russian authorities continues to humiliate themselves in the eyes of the international community. Today, the director of Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), Stanislav Dmitrievsky, was threatened with imprisonment by a court in Nizhny Novgorod.
His guilt – he took part in the “Marches of Dissenters” in April 2007. We are looking forward to the European Court of Human Rights to make a sentence in this case. In the following, statements of a couple of international human rights organizations in this matter.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Judicial harassment against the director of the RCFS goes on.
Geneva – Paris, August 16, 2007. The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, express their deep concern about new acts of judicial harassment against Mr. Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy, Executive Director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS).
On August 17, 2007, the Nizhegorodskiy District Court of Nizhny Novgorod will consider a motion lodged by the Inspection to Execute Punishment of Nizhegorodskiy district of Nizhny Novgorod, which could lead to further sanctions against Mr. Stanislaw Dmitrievskiy, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Pravozaschita and the executive director of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), for “breaching administrative law”. If the motion of the Inspection is taken into account by the Court, the conditional sentence that he is currently serving1 could indeed be turned into real term imprisonment.
On February 3, 2006, Mr. Dmitrievski received a suspended sentence of two years in prison and four years of probation for “incitement to racial hatred” by the Sovetsky District Criminal Court (Nizhnyi-Novgorod), after Pravozaschita, a joint publication of RCFS and the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Society for Human Rights (NNSHR), released statements by two Chechen separatist leaders, calling for a peaceful resolution of the Russian-Chechen conflict. On April 11, 2006, the appeals lodged by Mr. Dmitrievski and the Prosecutor, who considered the verdict too lenient, were dismissed by the Nizhnyi-Novgorod Regional Court (See Observatory Annual Report 2006, p. 532).
In April 2007, Mr. Dmitrievskiy was one of the organisers and active participant of the “Marches of Dissenters” that were not authorised by the authorities. In connection with these events, the Peace Court #1 of Nizhegorodskiy district issued two rulings (on June 5 and 6, 2007) ordering that administrative proceedings be undertaken against Mr. Dmitrievskiy. In this regard, Ms. Marina Zaytseva, an inspector of the inter-district inspection to execute punishment #3 of Nizhegorodskiy district at the Main Department of the Federal Service to Execute Punishment of the Russian Federation, made a written statement warning that Mr. Dmitrievskiy’s conditional sentence might be changed for a real term imprisonment under Part 1 of Article 190 of the Criminal and Execution Code of the Russian Federation. The staff of the Inspection refused to hand in a copy of the warning to Mr. Dmitrievskiy, which has made it impossible for him to appeal the warning in court.
Furthermore, on August 16, 2007, the Prosecutor’s office issued an official warning against Mr. Dmitrievskiy personally, shortly before a press conference that was organised by human rights defenders, journalists and members of the “Other Russia” opposition coalition on the protection of the architectural heritage of Nizhny Novgorod. Mr. Dmitrievskiy was then covering the event as a journalist for the Nizhny Novgorod edition of the Novaya Gazeta. The warning “on the inadmissibility of any violations of law on mass assemblies and law on extremism” was read out by a representative of the Ministry of the Interior in presence of a dozen of peoples, including different force agencies. In response, Mr. Dmitriesvkiy inquired on what grounds a press-conference and an excursion in the historical area were taken as an action of extremist character. He received no answers. The Observatory strongly condemns these new acts of judicial harassment against Mr. Stanislaw Dmitrievsky, which are further evidence of the determination of the Russian Federation to hinder the work of human rights defenders, and urges the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders operating in the Russia, so as to conform with international and regional human rights standards and instruments ratified by the Federation.
The Observatory further calls upon the Russian authorities to ensure that the administrative proceedings against Mr. Dmitrievskiy be dealt with in a fair and impartial manner so that the charges against him be dropped as they seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.
Finally, the Observatory urges the Russian authorities to conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular 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 realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” as well as its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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”.
President of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
The Kremlin, 103132
16 August 2007
Re: Russia – human rights defender Stanislav Dmitrievsky threatened with imprisonment
Dear President Putin,
Front Line is concerned following reports that Stanislav Dmitrievsky, Chairperson of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), faces further restrictions being imposed on the conditional sentence he is currently serving. Stanislav Dmitrievsky is also a consultant with the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Support Tolerance, a recently founded human rights organisation that was formed after the ordered closure of the RCFS under the new restrictive law on associations in Russia.
On 17 August 2007, at 9.40 am, the Nizhegorodskiy district court of Nizhny Novgorod will consider a motion lodged by the Inspection to Execute Punishment of Nizhegorodskiy district in relation to imposing new restrictions on Stanislav Dmitrievsky who is currently serving a two-year conditional sentence with a four-year probation period. Stanislav Dmitrievsky was charged with alleged extremist activities as a result of articles published in the newspaper “Pravo-Zaschita” (“Rights Defence”). The newspaper published statements made by Akhmed Zakaev and Aslan Maskhadov, two Chechen separatist leaders, calling for a peaceful end to the Russian – Chechen conflict. According to reports the aim of the motion being heard is to ban Stanislav Dmitrievsky from “breaching the administrative law”. Therefore the conditional sentence could be converted to imprisonment if Stanislav Dmitrievsky participates in any public actions organised to promote human rights or highlight violations of the rights of the people.
Following his conviction on 3 February 2006, Stanislav Dmitrievsky appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. In the case, “Dmitrievsky v. Russia”, he complains under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights of various irregularities which rendered the criminal proceedings against him as unfair. He further complains under Article 10 of the Convention of a violation of his right to freedom of expression.
On 16 August 2007, at 12.00pm, a group of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists, held a press-conference in defence of the architectural heritage of Nizhny Novgorod city, houses Nº32, 34a and 36 in Korolenko Street which according to the ruling of the Regional Law Assembly from 1997 is a protected historical area. The press conference was aimed at highlighting the plans to develop a multi-storey apartment building on the site. Prior to the commencement of the press conference a representative of the Ministry of the Interior directed an official warning from the Prosecutor’s Office to Stanislav Dmitrievsky; “On inadmissibility of any violations of law on mass assemblies and law on extremism”. In response Stanislav Dmitrievsky inquired whether the building company had also received a warning “on inadmissibility to break the legislation on protection of the national heritage” and on what grounds a press-conference and an excursion in the historical area were taken as an action of extremist character. He received no response.
Front Line is concerned that the attempts to impose further restrictions on Stanislav Dmitrievsky and the warning he received at the press conference are direct attempts to discourage him from carrying out his legitimate peaceful activities in defence of human rights, in particular the rights of freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. Concern is also expressed that it may form part of an ongoing campaign against human rights defenders in Russia
Front Line urges the authorities in Russia to:
1. Ensure that no further conditions are imposed on Stanislav Dmitrievsky’s conditional sentence;
2. Immediately cease all harassment and intimidation of Stanislav Dmitrievsky and all members of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Support Tolerance and allow them to continue their legitimate work in defence of human rights;
3. Ensure that all human rights defenders in Russia are free to carry out their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, without fear of intimidation or reprisal.
Front Line respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw attention to Article 12: (1.) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms” and (2.): “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.