Nizhny Novgorod: rights activists under attack

On 29 August 2007, law-enforcement officials in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod raided the offices of the Foundation to Promote Tolerance (FPT) and confiscated the organisation’s computers. Ms Oksana Chelysheva, FPT’s director, and Mr Stanislav Dmitrievsky, FPT’s assistant, were summoned on 31 August 2007 to give explanations in connection with the raid. Sobkorr.ru reports that both refused, citing Article 51 of the Russian Constitution, under which no one shall be obliged to give evidence against himself or herself.

After similar raids against the offices of the Nizhny Novgorod edition of Novaya Gazeta and the Nizhny Novgorod Association of Human Rights, Ms Chelysheva and Mr Dmitrievsky realised that the official justification for the raids was just a smokescreen, and that the real aim was to obstruct the work of local human rights organisations by seizing their computers. Both FPT’s and Novaya Gazeta’s operations are paralysed after the raid.

Local media in Nizhny Novgorod have launched a new defamation campaign against human rights organisations. Mr Vadim Andryukhin, reporter for the local tabloid, Novoe Delo, publised an article headlined “James Bond has Nizhny Novgorod on his sight”, in which he claimed that there are links between human rights organisations like the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society and the Committee Against Torture and British secret services. The article also labeled Mr Dmitrievsky as MI6’s main resident in Nizhny Novgorod..

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