Alert: Afghanistan one year on: open season on the defence of human rights
Russia
23.03.16
Urgent Interventions

Attack on Igor Kalyapin, Head of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, by a mob of unidentified people


URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY


Newinformation

RUS 004 / 1214 / OBS 093.1
Attacks / Harassment
Russian Federation
March 23, 2016

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.

Newinformation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesabout the attack on Mr. Igor Kalyapin, Head of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) and the Committeefor the Prevention of Torture, by amob of unidentified people. The JMG is a renowned human rightsorganisation coordinated by the Russian NGO Committee for Prevention of Torturethat plays a crucial role in revealing and documenting continued violations ofhuman rights committed in Chechnya. In 2013, the JMG was awarded the MartinEnnals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

According to the information received, on March16, 2016, Mr. Igor Kalyapin was informed by the manager of theGrozny Citi Hotel, where he was staying, that he had to leave the hotel,reportedly because of Mr. Kalyapin’s criticisms against Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, thePresident of Chechnya. As he was leaving the hotel, a group of around 15 maskedmen threw flour, eggs and a bright disinfectant at him[1]. Mr.Kalyapin reported having been kicked by the assailants several times, includingin the stomach.

Mr. Kalyapin was about to attend a press conference in Grozny to discussthe attack that took place on March 9, 2016 against members of the Joint MobileGroup and journalists (see background information). He left Chechnya afterreporting the assault to the police. TheObservatory was also informed that another flat used by the JMG in Grozny (flatwhich belonged to human rights defender Natalia Estemirova, killed in2009) was also raided. A video footage reportedly shows persons in plainclothes and in uniforms of the Ministry of Emergency Situations breaking thedoor of the apartment. Subsequently, access to the flat was reportedly blocked.

The Observatory considers these new attacks as aclear acts of reprisals for the activities carried out by Mr. Kalyapin, the JMGand the Committee for Prevention of Torture.

The Observatory calls on the authorities of theChechen Republic and more generally of the Russian Federation to guarantee thephysical and psychological integrity of Mr. Igor Kalyapin, members of the JMGand members of the Committee for Prevention of Torture, and to put an end toany verbal and physical attacks and acts of harassment against human rightsdefenders in Chechnya.

Background information:

The JMG hasalready been subjected to attacks in the past.

On December 5, 2014, in the aftermath ofterrorist attacks in Grozny where 26 people lost their lives, Mr. Kadyrovannounced on his website and on social networks that the houses of allmilitants shall be burned, and their entire families expelled from Chechnya. Inconnection with these statements, on December 8, 2014, Mr. Kalyapin requestedthe Prosecutor General to start criminal proceedings against Mr. Kadyrov forviolating the Criminal Code (“abuse of power”, Art. 286) and several articlesof the Constitution (notably on the presumption of violence, freedom ofmovement, the right to private property and the right to housing).

On December 10, 2014 the Head of the Chechen Republic, Mr. Ramzan Kadyrovaccused Mr. Kalyapin on Instagram of supporting recent terrorist attacks inChechnya. He notably suggested that Mr. Kalyapin received foreign funds fromsources linked to Mr. Ahmad Umarov, the brother of the late Doku Umarov, theself-proclaimed Emir of the Caucasus Emirate and arch-rival of Mr. Kadyrov. MrKalyapin was subsequently attacked during his press conferencein Moscow on December 11, 2014. On December 18, following statements of Mr.Ramzan Kadyrov, the Investigative Committee opened an investigation against Mr.Kalyapin.

On December13 and 14, 2014, the offices of JMG in Grozny (Chechnya) were set ablaze.Activists were captured and searched by masked armed men.

On June 3,2015, the offices of the JMG in Grozny were again violently attacked anddestroyed by an organised mob.

Theseattacks were committed openly and videotaped, yet they remain unpunished.

On March 9,2016, masked assailants in three cars blocked a small bus carrying two membersof the Joint Mobile Group as well as six foreign and Russian journalists nearthe border of Chechnya, violently beat them with bats, robbed them and set thevehicle on fire. According to reports, the attackers called the defenders andjournalists by their names, and accused them to be in Chechnya to“defend terrorists”.

The human rights defenders and journalists wereparticipating in a tour organised by the Committee for Prevention of Torture toreport on human rights violations in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Reportedly,the group had noticed they were under surveillance since the start of theirtour, on March 7. The policeinvestigating the bus attack reportedly did not find any trace of the computerscarried by the group in the bus, which would indicate that the assailants tookthem.

Severalhours after the attack, a group of unidentified camouflaged armed men who camein five cars also broke in JMG’s offices in the Ingush town of Karabulak andstole several computers and material. The Observatory fears that the aim of theattacks was not only to intimidate and violently assault the activists andjournalists, but also to take possession of their data.

Victimsincluded Mr. Ivan Zhiltsov and Ms. Ekaterina Vanslova, twomembers of the Committee for Prevention of Torture; Mr. Oeystein Windstad,a correspondent from the Norwegian Ny Tid newspaper; Ms. Lena MariaPersson Loefgren, a Swedish public radio journalist; Ms. AleksandraElagina from The New Times, Mr. Egor Skovoroda from Mediazona,freelance journalist Mikhail Solunin and Mr. Anton Prusakov, fromthe Kommersantnewspaper, as well as the bus driver.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. IgorKalyapin, all members of the Joint Mobile Group and the Committee forPrevention of Torture, as well as of all human rights defenders in the RussianFederation;

ii. Carryout a prompt, effective and independent investigation into the above-mentionedattacks,

iii. Put anend to any act of harassment and verbal and physical attacks against the JMG,the Committee for Prevention of Torture, their members, including Mr. IgorKalyapin, as well as all human rights defenders in Chechnya and more generallythe Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able tocarry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance;

iv. Complywith the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especiallyits Articles 1 and Article 12.2;

v. Complywith the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of theCouncil of Europe on the protection of human rights defenders and the promotionof their activities, and in particular with Article 2.i);

vi. Moregenerally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights andfundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of HumanRights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified bythe Russian Federation.

Addresses:

· Mr. Vladimir Putin, Presidentof the Russian Federation, Faxes: + 7 495606 5173; + 7 495 606 5173 / 6302408

· Mr. Yurii Ya. Chaika,Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Fax: +7 495 692 17 25, Email: prgenproc@gov.ru

· Mr. Vladimir Kolokoltsev,Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25

· Mr. Alexander Konovalov,Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Fax: +7 495 955 59 99.Electronic appeals via website: http://minjust.ru/electronic-appeal/email

· Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister ofForeign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203

· Ms. Ella Pamfilova, Ombudsman of theRussian Federation, E-mail: press-sl@ropnet.ru

· Mr. Mikhail Fedotov, Head ofthe Council under the President for Development of Civil Society and HumanRights. Fax: +7 495 606-48-55. E-mail: president-sovet@mail.ru,fedotov_MA@gov.ru

· H.E. Mr. Alexey Borodavkin,Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nationsin Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch

· Ambassador Alexander Romanov,Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13.E-mail: amrusbel@skynet.be

· Ambassador Alexander Alekseev,Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe,France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email: representationpermderussie@wanadoo.fr

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

***

Geneva-Paris, March 23, 2016

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 bright disinfectant wasbrilliant green, a dilute alcoholic solution sold in pharmacies as antiseptic,severely injurious when in contact with eyes.

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