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Russia
24.01.12
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Mr. Anton Ryzhov

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information

RUS 002 / 0112 / OBS 009.1

Arbitrary arrest / Release /

Harassment

Russian Federation

January 24, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Committee Against Torture about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of one of its Board members, Mr. Anton Ryzhov.

According to the information received, in the night of January 21, 2012, Mr. Anton Ryzhovwas arrested by several Nizhny Novgorod traffic police officers at the Nizhny Novgorod train station. Mr. Ryzhov was returning from Chechnya, where he had participated in the Joint Mobile Group (JMG)[1].

Having checked his passport, the police officers claimed that they needed to check his identity via their databases, allegedly because he did not look like his passport photo, and ordered Mr. Ryzhov to go to the police department located near the train station. At the police department, they also decided to check Mr. Ryzhov’s bags to find out whether he held “items prohibited in the Russian Federation”. Later, he was told by the police that their Crime Reports Registration Log contained a report about him according to which he would have information on terrorist activities recorded on digital devices. In that context, Major S.V. Tsvetkov, a criminal operational investigator of the Russian Interior Ministry, prepared a protocol of seizure of Mr. Ryzhov’s notebook and memory cards in presence of attesting witnesses. The withdrawn items, which contained confidential information relating to cases of human rights violations, were sealed.

During this period of time, Mr. Ryzhov was not allowed by the police to call his relatives or colleagues as allegedly the police had a time slot of three hours to allow him to exercise his right for a phone call. He was only allowed to make a call only after the objects were seized.

During his detention, Mr. Ryzhov was questioned about his work and his trips to Chechnya.

Besides, it is worth mentioning that Mr. Ryzhov’s search, inspection of belongings and seizure were recorded on a video camera, the police also took several pictures, allegedly “for putting in their database”. Despite his numerous requests, the police refused to provide him a copy of his explanations on the grounds that “it was not envisaged in the law”.

Mr. Ryzhov was finally released at around 4 a.m.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest and harassment of Mr. Anton Ryzhov since it seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and fears it might be related to the complaint filed against Mr. Igor Kalyapin, Chairman of the Committee Against Torture and Head of the JMG (See background information).

Background information:

On January 18, 2012, Mr. Igor Kalyapin was informed by the Head of the Territorial Department for Investigating Particular Important Cases of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Mr. Igor Sobol, about the filing by the head of the Chechen special militia agents (OMON) of a request for the opening of a criminal case by the investigative authorities of the Chechen Republic for “disclosure of State secrets” against Mr. Kalyapin under Article 283 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which is punishable with a prison sentence of three to seven years. The request is currently being reviewed by the investigative authorities.

It is feared that this request merely aims at sanctioning the human rights activities carried out by the JMG, in particular the investigation into the abduction and subsequent ill-treatment of Mr. Islam Umarpashayev by members of the Chechen OMON. The Umarpashayev case is currently examined by a team placed under the leadership of Mr. Igor Sobol, while Mr. Kalyapin is representative for the victim. The diary written by Mr. Kalyapin, in which he narrates the story of the investigation, has gained broad popularity on the Internet. Moreover, the JMG received two new cases in which members and commanders of the Chechen OMON are also suspected[2].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russian Federation, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Anton Ryzhov and Igor Kalyapin as well as of all members of the Committee Against Torture and of the JMG and all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Messrs. Anton Ryzhov and Igor Kalyapin as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:

- 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 realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”,

- and Article 12.2, which provides that “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 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”;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of their activities, and in particular With Article 2.i), in which the Committee calls on member States to “create an environment conducive to the work of human rights defenders, enabling individuals, groups and associations to freely carry out activities, on a legal basis, consistent with international standards, to promote and strive for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any restrictions other than those authorised by the European Convention on Human Rights;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.

Addresses:

· Mr. Dmitri Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23, Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408

· Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Rashid Nurgaliev, ul. Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25

· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34, 121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 495 644 2203

· Mr. Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigations Committee of the Russian Federation, Building 28, house 15, Naberezhnaya Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow, 105005, Russian Federation

· Ambassador Mr. Valery Loshchinin, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, E-mail : mission.russian@vtxnet.ch, Fax: +4122 734 40 44

· Ambassador Mr. Alexandra Romanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 66 avenue de Fré, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: amrusbel@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, January 24, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80


[1] The JMG, a solidarity initiative of Russian human rights defenders who visit Chechnya on a rotating basis to conduct investigations on cases of torture and disappearances, was formed after the murder of Ms. Natalia Estemirova, a member of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” in Grozny, in July 2009, and has been active in Grozny since the fall of 2009.

[2] One of these cases concerns the illegal detention and brutal torture by policemen of employees of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic. The investigation into these events was recently suspended by the investigative authorities in Chechnya. In late December 2011, the lawyers of the JMG sent a complaint against the suspension to the Prosecutor’s Office of the North Caucasus Federal District. In the case, which is now under review by the Federal Prosecutor, convincing evidence of criminal activity by the Chechen OMON agents was gathered.

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