Putting to rights, human rights

February 4, 2016

Maria Baronova, Polina Nemirovskaya

Human Rights project coordinators

Here’s why we need human rights: Moscow officials have been saying that Russian citizens shouldn’t even be leaving the house unless you really need to…



The team  of Zoya Svetova, other human-rights activists and our lawyer Sergei Panchenko have all worked hard on behalf of Alexander Margolin, one of the Bolotnaya Square case prisoners. And Ryazan District Court has granted him parole. Now, we continue the fight for the release of all the other “Bolotniks” [Bolotnaya case prisoners].

Political Prisoners

The relatives of 29 political prisoners have received support and aid from the Navalny-Khodorkovsky joint assistance project (and there were New Year’s presents for their children…). These are people from all walks of life – from Vladimir Podrezov, jailed for painting the star of a Stalinist skyscraper in Ukrainian colours, to the associates of writer Yuri Mukhin, who were put inside for propagating the notion of “a referendum on responsible government.”

An independent advisory council has established the main criteria for assistance:
– The financial necessity for such assistance;
– The individual must meet the definitions of what constitutes a “political prisoner” and a “prisoner of conscience,” as set out by Memorial and Amnesty International;
– The individual must consistently uphold European values.

As always, the question arises – what do we understand by the term “European values”? For us, they are values enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

This means that we uphold the rights of all political prisoners, which is why we also gave support to Ivan Astashin of the so-called Autonomous Combat Terrorist Organisation.

Don’t leave the house…

Looking ahead, we’re embarking on a major campaign to revoke the new Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code, which in effect says that citizens can’t go out in public, and question the current regime in any way, shape or form. One activist, Ildar Dadin, has already been sentenced to three years in a prison colony under this law (we’re going to do everything in our power to ensure Ildar is released); and three other people are awaiting sentence – Vladimir Ionov, Mark Galperin and Irina Kalmykova.

Ildar persisted with his one-person pickets even when most people had stopped demonstrating, having lost faith in their own powers. Having ridden roughshod over Article 31, of the basic law of the Russian Federation, which states that citizens have the right to speak out or demonstrate for any cause, as long as they do so peacefully and non-violently, now Moscow officials, falling over themselves to fall into line, have been saying that Russian citizens shouldn’t even be leaving the house unless you really need to…