воскресенье, 9 февраля 2014 г.

Igor Kharchenko freed

Updated from: Arrest and detention of Igor Kharchenko 4.02.2014

Igor Kharchenko
Igor Kharchenko, who was serving out his administrative sentence for supposed police insubordination from February 4th, the day the Olympic torch relay passed through Krasnodar, was released on February 9th.

According to Igor, the detention center staff treated him fairly respectfully, however, legitimate requests for daily walks were refused. Kharchenko continued his hunger strike to protest against the unlawful detention until his release.

суббота, 8 февраля 2014 г.

New information about the arrest of the picket organizers in Petrozavodsk

Update from: The picket organizers detained by police in Petrozavodsk (http://sochi2014watch-en.blogspot.ru/2014/02/petrozavodsk-picket-organizers-detained.html)

On February 7th, around 5pm, police officers took picket organizers Pavel and Sergei from their homes in Petrozavodsk to the police station. According to the activists, during their questioning, the police threatened them with violence and drug planting. The activists were held around an hour and a half before being released.

On February 8th, at about 9am police came to the home of Anatoly Avdeev, while Pavel was also there. The activists told the police that they had already spoken with law enforcement the day before. The police said, "This is another police." These officers identified themselves as working for the narcotics control but carried no identification. These men explained that neighbors had been complaining about the smell of paint. The activists were detained and taken away from the home and under various pretexts were kept in police custody until the start of the rally.

Pavel also explained that on the morning of the 8th, several men in civilian clothes entered the shop where materials for the picket were kept, and posing as friends of Paul took away all the materials.

The picket organizers detained by police in Petrozavodsk

Region: Republic of Karelia, Petrozavodsk 
Threat type: detention

On February 8th, 2014 in Petrozavodsk civic activists and anarcho-environmentalists held a picket against the Olympic Games in Sochi for its human rights violations, environmental damage, etc. The organizers provided advance notice to the city administration for the event; the officials in turn, responded that a picket of up to 150 people did not require approval.

On the 7th, three organizers of the picket were detained by police, but were released without warning or charges. On the morning of the 8th one of the organizers Anatoly Avdeev was detained by police, and released without charge, causing the start of the picket to be delayed by an hour.

After the picket, Avdeev was detained again, and his whereabouts are unknown. Other activists and friends are trying to find him.

Figurants: Anatoly Avdeev, 
anarchist, social activist 

Links: http://gubdaily.ru/blog/news/organizatorov-antiolimpijskogo-piketa-zaderzhala-policiya-foto/

пятница, 7 февраля 2014 г.

Investigator insists that Igor Kharchenko’s parents withdraw complaint

Update from: Arrest and detention of Igor Kharchenko 4.02.2014

On February 7, Olga Soldatova said on social media that investigators "strongly suggested" Kharchenko’s parents withdraw their complaint about the smashing of his car. Soldatova explained that his parents were forced to withdraw it.

On February 4, the windows to his car were smashed and his tires slashed by a group of unidentified people. Kharchenko’s stepfather is the owner of the car, and as such he is the only one who can submit a complaint.

Links: Olga Soldatova’s Twitter

четверг, 6 февраля 2014 г.

Igor Harchenko Announces Hunger Strike and Makes Complaint About Detention Conditions

Updated from: Arrest and detention of Igor Kharchenko 4.02.2014

The poster says: Free Greenpeace activists
Igor Harchenko

On 6 February, Igor Harchenko’s lawyer Irina Dubrovina visited him at the detention centre where he is currently serving out his sentence.

Igor said from the moment of his detention on 4 February to the morning of the 5th, that he was held in an almost unheated facility at Krasnodar’s western district police station. Police officers did not provide him with hot food or drinking water. The activist announced a hunger strike on 5 February.

Harchenko’s friends were able to pass on warm clothing and books to him.

среда, 5 февраля 2014 г.

Igor Harchenko Given 5 Days Jail Time

Updated from: Arrest and detention of Igor Kharchenko 4.02.2014

On 5 February in Krasnodar, Igor Harchenko’s case was considered in a Krasnodar court by Judge Stanislav Burenko. Harchenko, a council member of the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, was accused of police insubordination.

Igor Harchenko in the courthouse

According to the on duty officer of the Ministry of the Interior, Harchenko’s hearing was set for 2pm. Harchenko however was taken to the court building around 11am, after which the hearing began almost immediately.

Igor Harchenko was taken into the courtroom together with seven others who were also being tried for administrative violations. Harchenko’s friends and relatives, as well as independent observers attempted to enter the courtroom, but the court officers did not permit them. After this, the court secretary exited the courtroom, and asked the people gathered who had been planning to be present at the hearing, and how they are related to Harchenko. After some time, she said that the judge had decided without reason that the hearing would be close, which is why even the independent observers were not let in.

During the hearing, Harchenko was not allowed to speak, and was thus not able to file a motion to have his own defence, or to include video recordings of the activist’s detention in the evidence, or to delay the hearing until 6 February. The hearing took around 5 minutes, during which the judge sentenced not only Harchenko, but the other detainees as well. According to the activist, the judge handed down the sentences without giving the defendants any time to speak, and refused to accept any of their motions. The judge found Harchenko guilty of article 19.3 of the Russian Federation’s Code of Administrative Violations and sentenced him to 5 days in jail. A copy of the decision was not given to the defendant.

Harchenko intends to appeal the decision.

Links: http://www.ewnc.org/node/13530, https://twitter.com/OgonWatch

FrontLine: Arrests and detention of environmental human rights defenders in Sochi region

On 3 February 2014, environmental human rights defender Mr Evgeny Vitishko was convicted of 'hooliganism' and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention. On the same date, six other members of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC), Mss Anna Mikhaylova, Tatiana Borisova, Olga Soldatova and Messrs Denis Pestretsov, Andrey Mandrigelia and Igor Kharchenko were detained by police but later released.

EWNC is a Russian-based non-profit organisation that has worked to protect the environment of the Caucasus region since 1997. It has been actively involved in monitoring the environmental impact of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games preparations.

Evgeny Vitishko and his colleague, Mr Suren Gazaryan, received suspended sentences of three years in prison with two years' probation on 20 June 2012 after being found guilty of “causing significant damage to private property” under section 2 of Article 167 of the Criminal Code. On 20 December 2013, the Tuapse City Court converted Evgeny Vitishko's three-year suspended sentence to a jail term to be served in a settlement colony. On 3 February 2014, the trial date of Evgeny Vitishko's appeal against the conversion of this sentence was moved from 22 February to 12 February 2014, meaning that he will now stand trial at the Krasnodar Court while in detention. He will be expected to attend via video-conference. If the conversion of the suspended sentence stands, it would mean that Evgeny Vitishko would be sent to a settlement colony directly from the detention centre for serving three years in prison, and would be silenced for the duration of the Olympics.

On the morning of 3 February 2014, Evgeny Vitishko went to the Penitentiary Inspection Office, where he has to report regularly according to the terms of his initial suspended sentence. As he was leaving the building, several police officers who were waiting outside proceeded to arrest him on grounds of suspicion of theft. The human rights defender was taken for questioning to the local police station in Tuapse city and two hours later, police stated that he would be detained on charges of petty hooliganism, for “swearing” at a public bus stop on the morning of the same day. When they were asked by Evgeny Vitishko's lawyer, Mr Alexandr Popkov, whether the decision is based on a formal complaint, police officers replied they had not received any such complaint yet but that they expected to receive it soon. At 5pm, a hearing was heard at the Tuapse City Court under Article 20.1 of the Administrative Code (hooliganism). Evgeny Vitishko submitted a petition asking the Court to notify his lawyer of the hearing, but the Court declined this request and appointed a public defender, whose services the human rights defender declined. The Court also refused to call in the two prosecution witnesses who were supposedly present during the incident at the bus stop. At 6pm, Evgeny Vitishko was sentenced to 15 days and transferred directly to Tuapse detention centre.

Also on 3 February 2014, Anna Mikhaylova, Denis Pestretsov, Andrey Mandrigelia and Tatiana Borisova were detained by police at check point no.5 and then brought to Kalinino police station because they allegedly resembled a group of suspects. During his detention, Andrey Mandrigelia was questioned about whether EWNC planned to hold a demonstration on 4 February 2014 during the arrival of the Olympic torch in Krasnodar. On the same date Igor Kharchenko and Olga Soldatova were arrested and detained in Dinsky district police station. The six human rights defenders were released the same day. No reason has been established for their detention, in clear violation of normal legal procedure.

Front Line Defenders is concerned that these arrests were linked to the arrival of the winter Olympic torch to the Krasnodar region on 4 February 2014, and to the opening of Sochi Winter Olympic Games on 7 February 2014. Front Line Defenders is further concerned that the detention of Evgeny Vitishko is an attempt to silence critical voices as international attention is focused on Sochi during these events.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Russian Federation to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Evgeny Vitishko, and release him without delay, as they are solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of environmental human rights;
  2. Ensure that the members of Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) are not targeted for their work to protect the environment of the Caucasus region and for monitoring the environmental impact of the 2014 Winter Olympics;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Olga Soldatova’s and Olga Zazulya’s Detention

Region: Krasnodar 
Threat type: detention, threat of administrative prosecution 

On 5 February around 5:50pm, Olga Soldatova, an activist of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus, held a solo picket near the central police department in support of Igor Kharchenko.

Soldatova stood with a sign near the gate of the police station, where the detention facility in which Kharchenko is being held is located.

Olga Zazulya observed the picket from a distance and took photos. After some time, police approached Soldatova and demanded that she end the picket.

At the same time, Zazulya was approached by senior police lieutenant Nikolai Vasilievich Zhuravlev, who ordered her to stop taking photos and provide proof of permission for taking photos of the fence surrounding the station. Zhuravlev immediately ordered her inside to provide this proof, warning that if she was not able to, then he would have to cite her. According to the policeman, the police station was a facility of special significance, and that taking photos without permission from the Ministry of Interior is prohibited. The police ordered Soldatova into the police station as well.

In the station, police spoke with Soldatova and Zazulya, but did not present their identification, despite the women’s requests. The women wrote statements, after which they were released from the station.

Figurants: Olga Soldatova, activist of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus, Olga Zazulya, independent observer. 
Links: http://ewnc.org/node/13532

As the Olympic Torch Arrives in Krasnodar, Russian Environmental Activists are Detained by the Police

As the Olympic Torch arrived today in Krasnodar, Russia, the capitol city of Krasnodar Region of Russia, the police were busy detaining peaceful environmental activists from Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus (EWNC).  On Monday the 3rd and Tuesday the 4th of February, the police detained seven members of the organization.  All but one were released yesterday, but Evgeniy Vitishko, who was wrongfully arrested and sentenced to a three year suspended sentence in 2012, was re-arrested as he awaited the appeal of his trial on February 22nd.  Accused of hooliganism at a public bus stop, the 51-year old activist was arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail, a clear sign from the authorities that those who speak out against the environmental damage caused by the Olympics in Sochi will be punished.
Igor Kharchenkos detention
Today, in a separate incident, Igor Kharchenko of EWNC, was arrested again by the police after his car was vandalized. When he and other members of EWNC approached the car, police handcuffed him, took him into custody and charged him with disobeying a police officer. He will spend tonight in jail.
EWNC is one of the few environmental groups in Russia to speak out openly against the numerous environmental and human rights problems associated with the Olympic games—destruction of old growth forests, devastation of homes of local residents, and numerous other violations.
EWNC has not only monitored the preparation for the Olympics, but also monitors and protects environmentally fragile areas throughout the North Caucasus, and has identified numerous areas where oil and gas companies drill in protected areas, public officials flagrantly violate environmental law for their personal benefit, and international conventions including those to protect endangered species, migratory birds, and world heritage sites are ignored by the Russian authorities and the international institutions designed to protect them.
Crude Accountability recently wrote to the International Olympic Committee, explaining the threats to EWNC, and, specifically, to Evgeniy Vitishko, asking the IOC to use its authority to protect these peaceful activists from the threats against them, which are clearly connected to their outspoken criticism of the environmental and human rights violations associated with the preparation for the Olympic Games.  Unfortunately, the response from the IOC was that the incidents in question were not “related to the Olympic Games.”
The events of the past week are related to the Olympic Games.  The Russian authorities are doing everything they can to subdue the voices of peaceful protest.  And, rather than demonstrating their “might,” the authorities are demonstrating the power of the voices of truth, actions of non-violent protest, and the spirit of those who stand up to authority.  Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus and all those who speak the truth in these dark days deserve our support and our solidarity. 

For more information about Crude Accountability and our partnership with Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus: http://crudeaccountability.org/campaigns/taman/

понедельник, 3 февраля 2014 г.

Evgeny Vitishko’s Detention and Arrest

Region: Krasnodar Krai, Tuapse 
Threat type: detention, administrative arrest 

On 3 February, Evgeny Vitishko walked out of the Tuapse penitentiary administration building and was detained by police at a nearby public transportation stop.

Vitishko was initially detained on suspicion of theft, after which he was taken to the police station. There, he was accused of swearing at the stop, something that falls under article 20.1 of the Russian Federation’s administrative violation code (petty hooliganism).

His hearing was held later that day at the Tuapse municipal court. The environmental activist filed a petition for legal representation, which the court struck down, insisting that Vitishko accept the court-appointed defense lawyer, but Vitishko refused. The court even rejected the call to bring in two witnesses whose signatures are on the witness statements to testify for Vitishko.

Around 6pm, Judge Oleg Kalimanov sentenced Vitishko to 15 days in jail. Vitishko is appealing this decision.

The environmental activist was taken to the detention facility for the Tuapse District to carry out his sentence.

Figurants: Evgeny Vitishko, council member of the Environmental Watch of the North Caucasus 
Links: http://ewnc.org/node/13496, http://ewnc.org/node/13497, http://hro.org/node/18615

Detaintion of Igor Kharchenko and Olga Soldatova

Region: Dinskiy area of Krasnodar region
Type of threat: stopping of car, inspection of car, identification of driver's condition, detaintion, threat of administrative persecution. 

In the evening on February 3 Igor Kharchenko drove the car, Olga Soldatova was his passenger. The car was stopped by the road police near Novotitarovskaya village (suburb of Krasnodar). The policemen said that there had been a call to the police from some citizens who had told about a strange driver. Igor Kharchenko was identified by the police as sober.

The the policemen said that activists were supposed to be accused in some offences, arrested and brought Olga Soldatova and Igor Kharchenko to the police office (Dinskiy area of Krasnodar region). Four activists (Anna Mikhaylova, Alexey Mandrigelya, Denis Pestretsov and Tatyana Borisova) tried to get to this police office but they also were arrested on their way (read more: http://sochi2014watch-en.blogspot.ru/2014/02/activists-of-environmental-watch-on.html)

Igor Kharchenko was interrogated by the head of the criminal police of Dinskiy area, who called himself "Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich" although according to the nameplate on the door of his office his name was Scherbakha Gennadiy Vasilyevich. Kharchenko says that Scherbakha was rude and tried to take Kharchenko's phone against his will. Activists Kharchenko and Soldatova were asked about their plans for the next day (on February 4 in Krasnodar was held the relay of the Olympic flame).

Activists were released about 2 am on February 4. No reports on delivering or detaintion were drawn, no prosecutions were started.

Figurants: Olga Soldatova, Igor Kharchenko
Activists of "Environmental Watch on North Caucasus"

Links: http://www.ewnc.org/node/13501, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237644

Activists of "Environmental Watch on North Caucasus" were detained

Region: Krasnodar
Type of threat: inspection of the car, detaintion, threat of administrative persecution.

In the evening on February 3 in Krasnodar (Rostovskoe roadway, police checkpoint #5) Denis Pestretsov's car were stopped by the road police. Policemen said that the car was supposed to be involved in some offense. The policemen checked documents of the driver and passengers of the car, inspected the car and drew up a report of the inspection.

During the inspection the policemen took away the documents of the passengers. One of the policemen also clutched Tatyana Borisova by her hand, told the passengers that he was armed and was going to draw up a report, according to which the passengers would be accused in disobedience of a lawful order of the policeman (The Code on Administrative Offences, article 19.3)

The passengers (Anna Mikhaylova, Alexey Mandrigelya, Tatyana Borisova) and the driver Denis Pestretsov were brought to the Kalininskiy police office in Krasnodar. Policemen asked Alexey Mandrigelya several questions, other activists were not questioned. The policemen said that policeman from the criminal police were going to come there "to hold an educational conversation" with activists but no such conversations were held then.
Activists were held at the checkpoint and in the police office more than 3 hours. No reports on delivering or detaintion were drawn. In the report book of the police office false information about time of delivering was fixed. About 3 am on February 4 all the activists were released.

Figurants: Anna Mikhaylova, Alexey Mandrigelya, Tatyana Borisova,  Denis Pestretsov
Activists of "Environmental Watch on North Caucasus"

Links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGYCMEtSPpE, http://www.ewnc.org/node/13503

пятница, 17 января 2014 г.

A precautionary chat with Alexander Drook

Region: Voronezh, Voronezh Oblast
Threat type: repression

On 16 January, Alexander Drook of the Youth Rights Movement was called by the dean of the physics department at Voronezh State University, where he is a student. The dean asked Drook to come to his office the next day in order to discuss issues related to his studies. On 17 January, around 2pm, the rights activists came to the dean’s office, but was told that FSB agents wanted to speak to him instead.

They told Alexander that they wanted to speak to him in a room of the security services. An agent identified himself as Lietenant Colonel Alexey Mikhailovich Kulikov. Kulikov was interested in the possible planning of rights-related events that might interfere with the Olympic events in Voronezh, in particular on 18 January.

Kulikov told Drook that there is negative information in the media about rights activists, and mentioned the names of other Voronezh activists. Kulikov also asked about the general activities of rights organisations that Drook is a member of – the Youth Rights Movement, and the Voronezh Oblast Youth Council on Human Rights. After this, Kulikov spoke to Drook about his family, saying that the neighborhood he lives in is “dangerous”. Kulikov asked Drook if he could meet with him from time to time and call him on his cell phone.

During this conversation, Drook asked Kulikov not to summon him secretly anywhere or to meet at the House of Human Rights or during official events where other rights activists would be present, including to discuss the activities of rights organisations or security in the region as a whole. Rather Drook asked Kulikov to only send written requests and to summon him in an official capacity.

Figurants: Alexander Drook, chairman of the Voronezh Oblast Youth Council on Human Rights, International Youth Rights Movement, House of Human Rights - Voronezh