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. AndreyYakimov, a staff member of Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (ADCMemorial).
According to the information received, onNovember 13, 2012, police officials arrested Mr. Andrey Yakimov while he wasleaving a peaceful rally held in Saint Petersburg in commemoration of theseventh anniversary of the death of Timur Kacharava, a young antifascistactivist who was stabbed to death on November 13, 2005.
On November 2, 2012, three individuals, includingMr. Yakimov, informed the prefecture that the said peaceful rally would beheld, in accordance with the law. The said declarationmentioned the participation of 20 persons. On November 8, 2012, they receivedthe agreement of the municipal authorities.
On November 13, 15 persons reportedly attendedthe rally as participants. Other individuals only passed by to visit the spotwhere Timur Kacharava was murdered in 2005, inorder to leave flowers. The only other persons present during the permitted period(5pm-7pm) were journalists, whose function was to cover theevent and cannot be considered as participants. It is to be noted that, from thebeginning of the commemorative rally, members of the police present were rudewith some participants.
It is to be further noted that one of theparticipants reportedly heard a policeman saying in his walkie-talkie that oneof the organisers was detained, though at that time all participants who hadplanned to participate in the gathering were present at the specified location.
Finally, ten minutes before the official endingof the rally, while the participants started to head toward the undergroundstation, a police officer stopped Mr. Andrey Yakimov and told him to stay withthem for a few minutes in order to sign a document, enjoining him to sit in apolice vehicle. However, as soon as Mr. Yakimov did so, the car left and tookhim to the police station. Once atthe police station, a police file was opened, charging Mr.Andrey Yakimov for “exceeding the number of participants initially planned fora rally”, in contravention with Article 20.2 of the Code of AdministrativeOffences (“Violating the Established Procedure for Arranging or Conducting aMeeting, Rally, Demonstration, Procession or Picket”). Mr. Yakimov was finallyreleased later on the same day.
In the police record, Mr. Andrey Yakimovinsisted that not more than 20 participants were present at the rally. Thisinformation was confirmed later by witnesses in court. Moreover, it is to be highlighted that, on May 18, 2012, theConstitutional Court issued a resolution stating that the organisers of a rallycould not be held responsible in case the number of declared participants wouldbe exceeded. However, and despite the lack of evidence incriminating him, a firsthearing was scheduled on November 14, 2012 before Court 209 (Mirovoy sud, 209Uchastok), and the judge decided to postpone it to November 26, 2012 in orderto 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 protectthe flowers and pictures from being wiped out, the police arrested him. Anadministrative case was opened against him, accusing him of “disobedience” andcharging him under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Code. As he lives in thecity of Barnaul, his trial will be held there. Mr. Leonov was kept in detentionovernight at the police station before being released.
The Observatory strongly condemns these arrestsand the judicial harassment of Messrs. Yakimov and Leonov, which take place inthe context of general crackdown led by the authorities against civil societyactivists, including human rights defenders, and urges the Russian authoritiesto 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, includingjudicial harassment, against Messrs. Andrey Yakimov and Vitaliy Leonov as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation