Russian Federation: Arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Andrey Yakimov
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
RUS 009 / 1112 / OBS 109
Arbitrary arrest / Release / Judicial harassment
November 23, 2012
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.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Andrey
Yakimov, a staff member of Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (ADC
According to the information received, on
November 13, 2012, police officials arrested Mr. Andrey Yakimov while he was
leaving a peaceful rally held in Saint Petersburg in commemoration of the
seventh anniversary of the death of Timur Kacharava, a young antifascist
activist who was stabbed to death on November 13, 2005.
On November 2, 2012, three individuals, including
Mr. Yakimov, informed the prefecture that the said peaceful rally would be
held, in accordance with the law. The said declaration
mentioned the participation of 20 persons. On November 8, 2012, they received
the agreement of the municipal authorities.
On November 13, 15 persons reportedly attended
the rally as participants. Other individuals only passed by to visit the spot
where Timur Kacharava was murdered in 2005, in
order to leave flowers. The only other persons present during the permitted period
(5pm-7pm) were journalists, whose function was to cover the
event and cannot be considered as participants. It is to be noted that, from the
beginning of the commemorative rally, members of the police present were rude
with some participants.
It is to be further noted that one of the
participants reportedly heard a policeman saying in his walkie-talkie that one
of the organisers was detained, though at that time all participants who had
planned to participate in the gathering were present at the specified location.
Finally, ten minutes before the official ending
of the rally, while the participants started to head toward the underground
station, a police officer stopped Mr. Andrey Yakimov and told him to stay with
them for a few minutes in order to sign a document, enjoining him to sit in a
police vehicle. However, as soon as Mr. Yakimov did so, the car left and took
him to the police station. Once at
the police station, a police file was opened, charging Mr.
Andrey Yakimov for “exceeding the number of participants initially planned for
a rally”, in contravention with Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative
Offences (“Violating the Established Procedure for Arranging or Conducting a
Meeting, Rally, Demonstration, Procession or Picket”). Mr. Yakimov was finally
released later on the same day.
In the police record, Mr. Andrey Yakimov
insisted that not more than 20 participants were present at the rally. This
information was confirmed later by witnesses in court. Moreover, it is to be highlighted that, on May 18, 2012, the
Constitutional Court issued a resolution stating that the organisers of a rally
could not be held responsible in case the number of declared participants would
be exceeded. However, and despite the lack of evidence incriminating him, a first
hearing was scheduled on November 14, 2012 before Court 209 (Mirovoy sud, 209
Uchastok), and the judge decided to postpone it to November 26, 2012 in order
to call the police officers to testify as witnesses of the prosecution.
In addition, after the gathering was over,
police officers started to ransack the commemoration place. As a participant,
Mr. Vitaliy Leonov, tried to protect
the flowers and pictures from being wiped out, the police arrested him. An
administrative case was opened against him, accusing him of “disobedience” and
charging him under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code. As he lives in the
city of Barnaul, his trial will be held there. Mr. Leonov was kept in detention
overnight at the police station before being released.
The Observatory strongly condemns these arrests
and the judicial harassment of Messrs. Yakimov and Leonov, which take place in
the context of general crackdown led by the authorities against civil society
activists, including human rights defenders, and urges the Russian authorities
to drop all charges against them immediately.
Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Andrey Yakimov and Vitaliy Leonov as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;
ii. Put an end to any act of harassment, including
judicial harassment, against Messrs. Andrey Yakimov and Vitaliy Leonov as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation