Urgent Interventions

Intimidation of lawyer Rustam Matsev


RUS008 / 0612 / OBS 061



June 19, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights(FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesabout the threats against Mr. Rustam Matsev, lawyer and member of the human rights organisation “Memorial” in theRepublic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Russian Federation.

According to the information received, on May 31,2012, Mr. Rustam Matsev went to the police station of Nalchik where his client,Mr. Labazanov, was held in pre-trial detention. As his lawyer, he was there toassist Mr. Labazanov during his questioning by Mr. Phitikov,investigator of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in charge of thecase. Mr. Labazanov had been kidnapped and beaten up by members of the securityforces on February 10, 2012. He was then improperly charged with carrying explosive devices , on the basis of Article 222 of the Russian Criminal Code.

While Mr. Matsev was waiting for Mr. Labazanov to bequestioned, Mr. Zavyalikov, a criminal police officer, started to accuse Mr.Matsev of having encouraged his client to lie about his kidnapping in hisprevious statements. Mr. Matsev reminded Mr. Zavyalikov that the very work of alawyer was to provide legal assistance.

Mr. Zavyalikov also questioned Mr. Matsev about hispersonal life and asked him among others if he was wearing underwear. He alsothreatened him by stating that Mr. Matsev was being watched by police officersand advised him to be careful.

Mr. Zavyalikov subsequently tried to pressure Mr.Matsev into compelling his client to plead guilty, and to accept a deal withthe prosecution. As Mr. Matsev refused to follow Mr. Zavyalikov's demands, thelatter tried himself to put pressure on Mr. Labazanov during the questioningled by Mr. Phitikov.

Following these threats, Mr. Matsev addressed astatement on June 1, 2012 to the General Attorney of the Russian Federation, tothe Prosecutor of the Republic of Kabardino – Balkaria, and to other judicialand civil society authorities, requesting that criminal charges be broughtagainst Mr. Zavyalikov. Mr. Matsev also asked the Prosecutor to open aninvestigation into these threats, under Articles 144 and 145 of the RussianCriminal Code. However, no information could be obtained as to whether anyinvestigation was opened as of issuing this urgent appeal.

The Observatory strongly condemns theseacts of intimidation against Mr. Matsev, and fears that they aim at sanctioninghis human rights activities, and in particularthe legal assistance he provided as a human rights lawyer.

The Observatory recalls that according toPrinciple 8 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, “All arrested,detained or imprisoned persons shall be provided with adequate opportunities, timeand facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with a lawyer,without delay, interception or censorship”.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the RussianFederation, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrityof Mr. Matsev as well as of all human rights defenders in the RussianFederation;

ii. Carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into theabove mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring thembefore a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctionsprovided by the law;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level -against Mr. Matsev as well as against all human rightsdefenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that theyare able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance andfear of reprisals;

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

- its Article 1, whichstates that “everyone has the right, individually and in association withothers, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of humanrights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- and Article 12.2, whichprovides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure theprotection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and inassociation with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de factoor de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as aconsequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in thepresent Declaration”;

v. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee ofMinisters of the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights defendersand the promotion of their activities, and in particular with Article 2.i), inwhich the Committee calls on member States to “create an environment conduciveto the work of human rights defenders, enabling individuals, groups andassociations to freely carry out activities, on a legal basis, consistent withinternational standards, to promote and strive for the protection of humanrights and fundamental freedoms without any restrictions other than thoseauthorised by the European Convention on Human Rights;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights and with international and regional human rights instrumentsratified by the Russian Federation.


· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23,Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 6302408

· Mr. VladimirKolokoltsev, Minister of the Interior, Ulitsa Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow,Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25

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

· Mr. AlexanderGennadievich Khloponin, Representative of the President in North Caucasusfederal region, Tel: +7793) 97-34-67

· Mr. Vladimir Lukin,Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Tel: +7 495 607-19-22/ 607-34-67, E-mail:

· Mr. Michail Fedotov,Head of the Council under the President for development of civil society andhuman rights, Tel: +7 495 606-41-84,Fax: +7 495 606-48-55;E-mail:;

· Mr. Alexander IvanovichBastrykin, 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. AlexeyBorodavkin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to theUnited Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20,Switzerland, E-mail :,Fax: +41 22 734 40 44

· Ambassador Mr. AlexandraRomanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 66, avenue de Fre,Brussels, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail:

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


Paris-Geneva, June 19, 2012

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

Tocontact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· 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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