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Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of whistleblower Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin by the self-proclaimed “Moldovan Republic of Transnistria”


MDA 001 /0120 / OBS 008

Arbitrary detention /

Restrictions to freedom of expression

Moldova / Region ofTransnistria
February 6
, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requestsyour urgent intervention in the following situation in Moldova / Region of Transnistria.

Descriptionof the situation:

The Observatory has been informed byPromo-LEX about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin, awhistleblower who informed about forced conscription and hazing in the army ofthe self-proclaimed “Moldovan Republic of Transnistria” (hereinafter MRT). The“MRT” is not internationally recognized; t is a breakaway part of Moldova underthe effective control of Russia. Various United Nations and regional humanrights mechanisms have repeatedly held Russia internationally responsible for humanrights violations committed by the “MRT.”[1]

According to the informationreceived, on December 18, 2019, Mr. Alexandru Rjavitin was abducted by “MRT”police when he visited his mother in the village of Pervomaisc. He remained inincommunicado detention for one month. On January 24, 2020, his mother was ableto see her son in a pre-trial detention facility in Tiraspol, the capital ofthe “MRT”, but was not able to talk to him confidentially. On the same day inthe afternoon Mr. Rjavitin called his mother and said that he was released fromdetention and transferred to the military unit no. 80691, located in thevillage of Parcani, from which he had escaped in 2015.

On January 27, 2020, his mothervisited him in the military unit in Parcani, but again she was not able tospeak with him confidentially. Mr. Rjavitin gave her a copy of a decision bythe “Tiraspol city court of the MRT” terminating his pre-trial detention. Thedocument confirmed that from December 18, 2019, to January 24, 2020, Rjavitinwas in detention on suspicion of committing three criminal offenses in the“MRT” (“desertion”, “the unauthorized leave of the military unit” and“non-statutory relations”).[2] However,it is unclear on what legal ground Mr. Rjavitin was then transferred to themilitary unit.

Mr. Rjavitin was a conscript in thearmy of the “MRT” in 2015, when he fled to escape ill-treatment in the army. Hethen provided detailed information to human rights organizations andjournalists[3] aboutforced conscription, hazing and ill-treatment in the army of the “MRT.” Theauthorities of the “MRT” instituted criminal proceedings against Rjavitin.

On February 4, 2020, “MRT” state television showed Mr.Rjavitin in camouflage uniform allegedly performing his compulsory militaryservice in a unit of the “MRT” army.[4] Rjavitin stated that he had notbeen ill-treated and had no complaints but it is impossible to verify thisbecause Mr. Rjavitin’s lawyer is based outside of the “MRT” and has no accessto him, and his mother was not allowed to meet her son in private.[5]

The Observatory strongly condemnsthe arbitrary detention of Mr. Rjavitin and subsequent transfer to a militaryunit in the “MRT”, which seems to be only aimed at sanctioning him for speakingout about ill-treatment in the army of the “MRT” and which exposes him to ahigh risk of renewed ill-treatment. The Observatory calls on the authorities ofthe “MRT”, the Moldovan authorities, and the Russian authorities, who areresponsible for the violations committed in the “MRT” under international law,to do everything in their power to effect the immediate release Mr. Rjavitinand to close the criminal case against him. The Observatory further urges themto ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimateactivities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.


Please write to the authorities ofthe “MRT” and Russia asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionallyrelease Alexandru Rjavitin from military unit no. 80691;

ii. Put an end to any acts ofharassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Rjavitin;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisationsare able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance andfear of reprisals;

iv. Comply with all the provisionsof the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UNGeneral Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 5 (c) and 6;

v. Ensure in all circumstancesrespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance withinternational human rights standards and international instruments ratified byRussia.


· Mr. VadimKrasnoselskiy, “President of the MRT”, 3300 Tiraspol, 187 Karl Marx street,Email:

· Mr. Igor Dodon,President of the Republic of Moldova, 2037 Chisinau, 154 Stefan cel Mare Bd,Email:

· Mr. Mihai Cotorobai, People’s Advocate of the Republic of Moldova,;

· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495606 3602; + 7 495 625 3581

· Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, twitter@GovernmentRF

· Mr. Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RussianFederation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203

· Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations inGeneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail:

· Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 37426 13. E-mail:

· Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council ofEurope, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email:

Please also write to the diplomaticrepresentations of Russia in your respective countries.


Geneva-Paris, February 6, 2020

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

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 bythe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

· E-mail:

· 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] See European Court of Human Rights, Cazac andSurchician v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia, 22365/10, judgment of7anuary 7, 2020, § 47.

[2] On file with the Observatory.

[3] See < > and < >


[5] One of the applicantsin Cazac and Surchician v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (seefootnote 1) testified after his release from the “MRT” that “MRT” officials hadrepeatedly threatened him to make a confession.

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