Russia
10.04.12
Urgent Interventions

Attack against Ms. Elena Milashina

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

RUS 004 / 0412 / OBS 031

Assault / Threats

Russian Federation

April 10, 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 attack against Ms. Elena Milashina, journalist at Novaya Gazeta newspaper, reporting on human rights issues.

According to the information received, on April 5, 2012 at 00.20, Ms. Elena Milashina was approached by two unidentified men while she was going back home in Balashih (Moscow region) with a friend. The assailants beat them brutally, knocked out Ms. Milashina's teeth, bumped on her temples, on her legs, and beat her face and head with their fist. Three girls subsequently arrived on the spot and rescued Ms. Milashina and her friend.

Ms. Milashina tried to call 02 (the police number) at 00.37 without success, and had to call again twice before being placed on hold and finally put through an operator. Their interlocutor then informed them that the 02 number was for Moscow city calls only, and not for other cities of the Moscow region.

Ms. Milashina and her friend therefore went back home. At 2.00 a.m. however, a police vehicle drove up to the scene of the attack, where the three girls who had rescued them had remained. One of the three phoned Ms. Milashina and her friend, and told them to come back to the spot. However, when the two arrived and approached the vehicle, they could see the driver sleeping, a policewoman seated and a third policeman comfortably laying while he was reportedly interrogating one of the witnesses of the attack.

Ms. Milashina and her friend knocked several times at the vehicle's window, but the three officers inside reportedly smiled and ignored them. While they waited for 15 minutes outside of the car, at no time did the officers open the doors or the windows.

As Ms. Milashina and her friend decided to head back towards their home, the police vehicle followed them. The officers finally caught up with them at the front door of the house, and the policewoman ordered them to “sit down!”. She subsequently proposed to take them to the injury care centre. The two declined the proposal, stating that they would go there the day after.

Ms. Milashina and her friend subsequently managed to give statements to the police, and a preliminary inquiry was opened.

In 2006, Ms. Milashina had already escaped an assassination attempt in Beslan, North Ossetia.

The Observatory strongly condemns this assault, and fears that it aims at sanctioning Ms. Elena Milashina's human rights activities, and more particularly her recent articles published in Novaya Gazeta about electoral irregularities and other issues related to fundamental rights.


Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Elena Milashina as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii. Carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above mentioned facts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment against Ms. Elena Milashina 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;

iv. 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”,

- 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”;

v. 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;

vi. 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, Russia, Tel: + 7 495 640 10 48

· H.E. Mr. Alexey Borodavkin, Ambassador, 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 Fre, Brussels,, 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.

***

Paris-Geneva, April 10, 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 FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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