Urgent Interventions

Sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr. Konstantin Kotov


RUS 004 / 0919 / OBS 069


Russian Federation
September 6, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests yourintervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

TheObservatory has been informed by Memorial Human Rights Centre about thesentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr. Konstantin Kotov, member of the Moscow-based “For Human Rights”movement and of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, and a volunteer for OVD-Info —an independent media outlet and a public organisation defending the rights ofthose detained, accused or condemned on politically motivated charges[1].Apart from participating in numerous protests himself, he has organizedpeaceful assemblies and trained protesters on how to behave during suchgatherings and when facing arrest.

Accordingto the information received, on September 5, 2019, Judge Stanislav Minin of theTverskoy District Court of Moscow condemned Mr. Kotov to four years in a penalcolony for repeated violations of theprocedure for holding public assemblies (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code ofRussian Federation or, as it is known today, the “Ildar Dadin” Law). Hisconviction contradicts the Russian Constitution: in January 2017, Russia’sConstitutional Court, while holding Article 212.1 constitutional, ruled that acriminal case cannot be instituted solely on the basis of repeated violationsof the procedure, regulated by provisions of the Administrative Code, findingthat criminal liability can only be applied if the actions of a protestercaused, or have a real chance to cause, harm to citizens or public safety[2].

Previously,on August 12, 2019, police officers arrested Mr. Konstantin Kotov not far fromhis home and searched his apartment without a court order. He was subsequentlytaken to the Moscow Headquarters of the Investigative Committee and chargedwith “repeated violation of the regulations for organising a public assembly,rally, demonstration, march or picket” (Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code).This followed his participation in three peaceful protests to support politicalprisoners earlier in 2019. In connection with this summer’s protest movement inthe leadup to the September 8 Moscow City Council elections, Mr. Kotov wasdetained for calling on his Facebook audience to join a rally on TrubnayaSquare on July 19, 2019 to protest the denial of registration of severalopposition members for the elections, and for taking part in a march demandingan end to political repression[3] andregistration of independent candidates to the elections, which took place onAugust 10, 2019.

OnAugust 14, 2019, Moscow’s Presnensky District Court ordered Mr. KonstantinKotov to be remanded in custody until October 12, 2019.

OnAugust 15, 2019, Mr. Konstantin Kotov’s lawyer, Ms. Maria Esmont, reported thatonly 50 hours after her client’s arrest, the case investigator informed herthat the preliminary investigation on Mr. Kotov was closed and the case sent tothe Tverskoy District Court of Moscow.

OnAugust 16, 2019, Moscow’s Presnensky District Court, on a request by theInvestigative Committee, restricted the time allowed to Mr. Kotov and hislawyer to prepare the defense in the criminal case, setting a limit at 12:00 onAugust 19 (only 72 hours, of which 48 fell on a week-end), thereforerestricting Mr. Konstantin Kotov’s right to a legal defense.

Thejudicial harassment of Mr. Konstantin Kotov takes place in the context of therepression of pro-democracy protests which began in Moscow on July 14, 2019,after election commissions denied registration of several opposition members ascandidates for the Moscow City Duma elections on the ground that documentssubmitted by them contained numerous violations. Since then, around 100,000people took peacefully to the streets in Moscow to protest. The authoritiesdetained close to 3,000 peaceful protesters and opened dozens of administrativeand several criminal cases, including the so-called “Moscow Case” charging 14with organizing “mass unrest”.

TheObservatory recalls that Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code, as well as Article20.2 Section 8 of the Administrative Law Code (“repeated violation by aparticipant in a public event of the established regulations for holding apicket”), contradict the right to freedom of association and assembly asenshrined in Article 21 and 22 of International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights (ICCPR) and Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights(ECHR). Criticism over the application of those articles[4]has previously been expressed by the Head of the Presidential Human RightsCouncil[5]and the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation[6].

Mr.Konstantin Kotov is the second individual criminally condemned for the mereparticipation in a peaceful assembly under Article 212.1. Until today, Mr.Ildar Dadin, a political activist and prisoner of conscience, was the onlyperson to have been prosecuted for holding three individual pickets. He spentone year in a penal colony, where he was allegedly tortured. On February 22,2017, the Supreme Court of Russia overturned Mr. Dadin’s conviction and orderedhis release.[7]

Article212.1 contains no distinction between violent and peaceful assemblies,essentially allowing for a person to be imprisoned for a mere failure to notifythe authorities of a demonstration they organized or for taking part in such ademonstration, therefore contravening on its face a number of international andregional human rights instruments, including the ICCPR and the ECHR.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mr.Konstantin Kotov, which seem to be only aimed at sanctioning him for hislegitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Russianauthorities to immediately end any act of harassment, including at the judiciallevel, against Mr. Konstantin Kotov, and all the human rights defenders in thecountry.

Actions requested:

Pleasewrite to the authorities of Russia asking them to:

i.Immediately and unconditionally end any act of harassment, including at thejudicial level, against Mr. Konstantin Kotov, as well as against all humanrights defenders in the country;

ii.Respect in any circumstances Mr. Konstantin Kotov’s rights to a legal defense;

iii.Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders are able to carry outtheir legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv.Comply with all their international obligations to respect the exercise of thecitizens’ right to freedom of association and assembly, as established in theICCPR, in particular its Articles 21 and 22, specifically by amending Article212.1 of the Criminal Code so as to establish a distinction between violent andpeaceful assemblies;

v.Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on HumanRights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular its Articles 1 and 12.2;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by the Russian Federation.


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

· Mr. Dimitri Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@MedvedevRussia

· 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 writeto the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,September 6, 2019

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

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact theObservatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:

· 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 / +4122 809 49 29

[1] The Human Rights Centre Memorial, an FIDH member organization,has recognized Mr. Konstantin Kotov as a political prisoner.


[3] For more information on the current context of politicalrepression bsee FIDH Report, “Russia: Pro-democracyprotesters undeterred by repression”, published in September 2019:

[4] See



[7] Decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of theRussian Federation No. 43 – P17, 22 February 2017. @font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math";}@font-face { font-family: OpenSymbol;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }h1 { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; text-indent: 0cm; break-after: avoid; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; font-weight: normal; }p.MsoFootnoteText, li.MsoFootnoteText, div.MsoFootnoteText { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt 16.95pt; text-indent: -16.95pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }p.MsoHeader, li.MsoHeader, div.MsoHeader { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }p.MsoFooter, li.MsoFooter, div.MsoFooter { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman", serif; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: rgb(149, 79, 114); text-decoration: underline; }span.Heading1Char { }span.Caractresdenotedebasdepage { vertical-align: super; }span.WW-LienInternet { color: navy; text-decoration: underline; }span.FootnoteReference2 { vertical-align: super; }span.FooterChar { }span.HeaderChar { }span.FootnoteTextChar { }span.msoIns { text-decoration: underline; color: teal; }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; }div.WordSection1 { }ol { margin-bottom: 0cm; }ul { margin-bottom: 0cm; }

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