Posts Tagged ‘Memorial’

Gulag historian Yury Dmitriyev returns to prison

July 24, 2020

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Expert on Stalin atrocities Yury Dmitriyev. Photo: Igor Podgorny, 7×7-journal.ru

The Moscow Times of 22 July 2020 carries a detailed report by Evan Gershkovich on Gulag historian Yury Dmitriyev who has spent decades calling attention to one of the darkest chapters in Russia’s history. He now faces up to 15 years in prison on sexual assault charges in a case his allies say has been trumped up to silence him. Acquitted of child pornography, Yury Dmitriyev now faces charges of sexual assault.

The Moscow Times profiled Dmitriyev in 2018:

Yury Dmitriyev normally hates Moscow. The concrete, the commotion, the pollution. As much as he can, he stays in Karelia, where he was born, raised and has spent his 62 years. In the northwestern region bordering Finland and the Baltic and White Seas, he can usually be found in the woods or in his study, writing.

Yet on a pleasant evening in mid-May, Dmitriyev, a prominent researcher of Soviet crimes, was happy to be in the metropolis. Accompanied by his elder daughter, Yekaterina Klodt, and his lawyer, Viktor Anufriyev, old friends greeted him with grins and tight hugs in a courtyard outside Teatr.doc, a progressive theater, ahead of a human rights awards ceremony.

One month earlier, Dmitriyev had been cleared of child pornography charges. Authorities had detained him in December 2016 after investigators found nude photos of his 11-year old adopted daughter; Dmitriyev said he took the photos to monitor her physical changes as she was prone to illness. From the outset, human rights defenders claimed that the case was fabricated to silence an outspoken activist.

If the arrest came as a shock to those who knew him, so too did his acquittal: Fewer than one percent of criminal defendants in Russia are cleared.

But authorities, human rights defenders now say, weren’t done with the historian just yet. Only a month after the awards night, a judge annulled the April decision, starting the trial anew.

Then, two weeks later, prosecutors brought additional charges to the table: This time they claimed that Dmitriyev had sexually assaulted his daughter. As of late June, the historian was back in jail facing another uphill legal battle, his freedom having been fleeting.

“The new charges are a chance for the prosecution to get it right,” Anufriyev said. “They failed the first time, so officials are giving them another chance to get the job done.”

Digging and documenting

Two decades ago, Dmitriyev discovered a set of mass graves in a Karelian forest containing the bodies of more than 9,500 victims of Josef Stalin’s Great Terror. Poring over KGB documents, the head — and sole employee — of Memorial’s Karelia branch spent the next 20 years documenting each victim’s story.

“What makes Yury unique is that he combines both the digging and the documenting,” said Sergei Krivenko, a colleague of Dmitriyev’s at Memorial and a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council. “Some people work on compiling books of names, some people search for the exact locations of the killings. No one has dedicated themselves to both the way Yury has.”

No one has dedicated themselves to both digging and documenting the way Yuri has.

Those who know Dmitriyev say he toiled everyday. “He’s been doing this work for the past 30 years, and I’m 33,” said Klodt, his elder daughter. “I’m so used to it that, for me, his work is no different than a dentist’s.”

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, historians say, the state has supported them in locating and memorializing the burial sites of the estimated 15 to 30 million victims of Stalin’s rule. At the location Dmitriyev discovered — Sandarmokh — local authorities helped build roads and erect monuments and aided with an annual gathering at the site.

But in recent years, human rights defenders say, the climate has become less hospitable. Those who spoke with The Moscow Times pointed to a resurgence in Stalin’s popularity as a significant reason: In June last year, Russians voted him the “most outstanding” person in history. In second place was President Vladimir Putin, who has accused the West of “excessive demonization” of the Soviet leader.

Others pointed to a surge in nationalism since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and got involved in Ukraine. “There were many foreigners killed at Sandarmokh — Norwegians, Poles, Finns and Ukrainians, including around 200 intellectuals,” Krivenko said. “This is a very important place for Ukrainians especially, and a delegation would visit the site annually.”

Dmitriyev organized the memorial visit every year on Aug. 5. He invited foreign delegations and led discussions, Krivenko said. After the events in Crimea and Ukraine, the discussions often turned to politics.

“I think this is why they went after him,” Krivenko said. He also pointed to an October 2016 decision to add Memorial to a register of “foreign agent” organizations that receive foreign funding. “I think this gave the local siloviki” — officials with ties to law enforcement — “a signal that they could go after us.”

Two months later, in December, Dmitriyev was first arrested.

Prison as a work trip

The day after the awards night, Dmitriyev was invited to speak with human rights students at the Sakharov Center, named after the Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist.

Klodt had come with him and complained that she wasn’t feeling well. “Maybe they should put you in prison for a year too so they can toughen you up,” her father joked.

Quick to laugh, thin and slightly disheveled, Dmitriyev presented an unimposing figure. But when the subject of his work came up, he turned deadly serious.

“I don’t fight the system. That’s a dead end, and I’m already old now,” he told The Moscow Times before the event. “I fight for memory. I fight so anyone who wants to can learn about their relatives, regardless of whether the government wants it or not. These people existed at some point. They worked and loved and had children. I’m for protecting the freedom of private life and of those memories.”

Without those memories, Dmitriyev continued, today’s generation cannot judge whether their government is laudable or acting improperly.

The people I dig up were in the same prison, walked the same halls and were behind the same bars.

“When a person knows the history of their family for multiple generations, they can understand what our state is doing right and what it’s doing wrong,” he said. “Called upon by the state to do this or that, they’ll say, ‘No, my great-grandfather was summoned in the same way and it ended badly for him. So maybe it’ll end badly for me as well.’”

Dmitriyev shrugged at the subject of his time in prison. “I don’t make a great tragedy out of that year,” he said. “I just think of it as a work trip. I’ve gained a better understanding of what my heroes — the people I dig up and write about — were thinking. They were in the same prison, walked the same halls and were behind the same bars.”

More difficult, he said, was being separated from his younger daughter. Dmitriyev himself was adopted, and at some point he decided he wanted to care for an orphaned child too. He hoped he’d be able to talk to her again by the end of the year. “It’s a humane policy by the prosecutor’s office,” he joked. Then he turned serious again: “I can handle it, I’m a tough person. But what about the child? She thinks everyone has abandoned her.”

Into the forest

After Dmitriyev was first arrested, the girl was taken in by her biological grandmother. Klodt said the family and the grandmother maintained regular communication. But when Dmitriyev was acquitted, Klodt said, the grandmother cut off all communication with the family. Then she sent a letter to the prosecution demanding the acquittal be overturned.

Anufriyev, Dmitriyev’s lawyer, believes that local authorities pressured her into writing the letter. He also says that the new charges of sexual assault are founded solely on a June 6 meeting between investigators and the girl during which, Anufriyev says, they coerced her into saying what they wanted. “They say they’re helping the child, but really they’re making her suffer,” he said.

Reached by phone, Tatyana Kordyukova, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, said she couldn’t comment on the case and referred The Moscow Times to the Investigative Committee. The Investigative Committee, in turn, did not respond to requests for comment.

On July 25, the retrial of the first case will begin. The Investigative Committee is currently researching the new charges, a process which could take months. The original charges carry up to 15 years in prison; the new charges up to 20.

This time, though, Anufriyev says Dmitriyev is better prepared. “After his last stint in prison, he now knows that we can fight and win this thing,” he said.

Klodt, too, is ready for the fight. “I’m not constantly hysterical like last time,” she said. “I understand that something needs to be done. I’m not giving up.”

His colleagues say they won’t give up either. When Dmitriyev was first arrested, human rights defenders, artists and writers across the country spoke out for him and wrote letters to Putin. Still, they are sober about the possible outcome.

“This is the atmosphere for us right now,” Krivenko said. He pointed to the case of Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker accused of terrorism after he had refused to accept the annexation of Crimea, and Memorial colleague Oyub Titiyev, who is also in prison on charges widely believed to be fabricated.

“The only good thing from all this is that the president is showing us how it all happened in the 1930s — how people were blamed, how siloviki read signals from the top,” Krivenko said. “We used to study this in archives, now we see it in real life.”

During his short stint out of prison, Dmitriyev returned to work. Anatoly Razumov, a historian and one of Dmitriyev’s closest friends, stayed at his house from the night before the acquittal was overturned until June 19. The entire time, he says, Dmitriyev worked on a book he had to put off when he was first arrested.

In May, asked if he would return to his work or if he feared doing so would anger certain parties, Dmitriyev was unmoved. “If you’re afraid of wolves, you shouldn’t go into the forest,” he replied.


This article first appeared in The Moscow Times and is republished in a sharing partnership with the Barents Observer.

Carter Centre wants to preserve the stories of human rights defenders

October 22, 2019

On 15 October 2019, Ernie Suggs, reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 12th Human Rights Defenders Forum in Atlanta had wrapped up and that former President Jimmy Carter said he’d like to see such defenders honored in a more permanent way at his namesake facility. According to the United Nations, 431 human rights defenders were killed worldwide in 2017. The Carter Center should tell those 431 stories, the former president said. Carter has been calling for the center to increase its presence in the human rights arena. “We ought to have a common place where we can get that information,” he said. “We ought to have a way to communicate with others so that, when people are abused or killed, their stories will be told.” However, there are already some serious projects on this area; see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/13/stop-the-killings-you-can-help-front-line/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/04/progress-report-on-i-defend-rights-project-in-2018/

Karin Ryan, the Carter Center’s senior policy adviser for human rights, said the narratives often get muddled. “The Carter Center has the ability to amplify the stories of human rights defenders, and the Carter Center has a reputation of speaking out and speaking truth to power,” Ryan said. “President Carter believes that we should be doing more and has challenged us to have a more comprehensive plan to get it done. When defenders start dying, what happens to society?”

About 50 activists, peacemakers and community leaders from 28 countries participated in the forum, which focused on “Building Solidarity toward Equality for All.” The group talked about global protection for activists, challenges faced by women fighting for human rights, and the best ways to support civil, economic, political and social rights. “Events like this are special because it makes us appreciate other agents and agencies that are doing good work around the world,” said Bashir Y. Mundi, a native of Nigeria and the director of the Development Initiative of West Africa. “This work can be under-appreciated and challenging, as evident by the stories you hear about the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives and freedom.

Carter Center Statement from the 2019 Human Rights Defenders Forum:

Forum participants call on local and national governments and international organizations to:

1) Increase efforts to protect activists who are threatened and attacked. Offer activists political, moral,band physical support in times of crisis. Create robust programs to support women activists. Stop impunity for violators—hold accountable those who attack human rights and peace activists.

2) Increase meaningful long-term support for their work. Activists report that the difficult work of movements and civil society organizations is hamperedbydrastic funding cuts by previously reliable sources. In addition to issuingstrong statements about human rights abuses,governmentsshould also provide needed resources and other support. Philanthropic foundations also should increase flexible, long-term support. The Carter Center’s Human Rights Program has created a web-based platform to facilitate ongoing discussions and community building for human rights defenders and peacebuilders at forum.cartercenter.org

https://www.ajc.com/news/carter-wants-center-preserve-the-stories-human-rights-defenders/F5pFmpgVArA9XOgAnVoc8L/

FIFA expresses concern about Chechen human rights defender, but to whom?

May 24, 2018

In less than a month, millions of people will turn their eyes upon Russia as the 2018 Football World Cup kicks off. On 23 May 2018, the NGO Civil Rights Defenders published FIFA’s reply to an open letter it and and 13 other international and Russian human rights groups sent to FIFA, urging the association to start engaging with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya, especially the case of Oyub Titiev [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/15/chechen-human-rights-defender-oyub-titiev-arrested-on-trumped-up-charges/].

 

Oyub Titiev in Memorial’s local office in Grozny, Chechnya. In the background a portrait of his murdered colleague, Natalia Estemirova.

[In January 2018, Chechen authorities started a campaign against the leading Russian human rights organisation Memorial, by jailing prominent human rights defender and head of Memorial’s local office, Oyub Titiev, on fabricated charges. In February, it was announced that the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, was confirmed by FIFA as the team base for Egypt.]

Such engagement is consistent with FIFA’s responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the letter addressed to Mr. Infantino, President of FIFA, read. “It is also consistent with the commitment in article 3 of FIFA’s statutes to promote the protection of international human rights, and would demonstrate determination to implement its new Human Rights Policy”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/02/fifa-governance-committee-starts-dealing-with-a-human-rights-policy/]

FIFA has now replied (follow link for full text) to the letter, thanking the rights groups for raising concern about the detention of Oyub Titiev: “… FIFA values the important work done by human rights defenders such as Mr. Titiev and yourselves and is, in accordance with paragraph 11 of its human rights policy, committed to respect and help protect the rights of everyone who is working to advance human rights in relation to FIFA’s activities.” 

This is quite a change from the traditional view that politics and sport have nothing to do with each other, but it does not say WHAT and with WHOM in Russia FIFA has taken up the case. That will probably remain confidential.

Documenting the Killings of Environmental Defenders (Guardian and Global Witness)

July 15, 2017

Last Friday I asked attention for Front Line’s project Memorial that tries to honor all human rights defenders who have been killed since 1998 [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/13/stop-the-killings-you-can-help-front-line/]. Now the Guardian announces that this year, in collaboration with Global Witness, it will attempt to record all of the deaths of people who are killed while defending their land, forests, rivers or wildlife – most often against the harmful impacts of industry. The project will also document the stories of some of the land and environmental defenders still under attack

Activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders are dying violently at the rate of about four a week, with a growing sense around the world that ‘anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions’

Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals.

    • The Guardian pieces addresses also the crucial question of methodology.” Environmental defenders: who are they and how do we decide if they have died in defence of their environment?” [see:

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/environmental-defenders-who-are-they-and-how-do-we-decide-if-they-have-died-in-defence-of-their-environment]

      Amazon rainforest activists José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo were murdered by gunmen in Brazil’s Pará state in May 2011
      Amazon rainforest activists José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo who were murdered by gunmen in Brazil’s Pará state in May 2011. Photograph: Stringer, Brazil/Reuters

      Some excerpts:

      Who are land and environmental defenders?

      Land and environmental defenders are people who take peaceful action, either voluntarily or professionally, to protect the environment or land rights. They are often ordinary people who may well not define themselves as “defenders”. Some are indigenous or peasant leaders living in remote mountains or isolated forests, protecting their ancestral lands and traditional livelihoods from business projects such as mining, dams or luxury hotels. Others are park rangers tackling poaching or illegal logging. They could even be lawyers, journalists or NGO staff working to expose environmental abuse and land grabbing.

      How does Global Witness document killings of defenders?

      Global Witness uses online searches and its extensive network of local contacts to source evidence every time a land or environmental defender is reported as murdered, or as having been abducted by state forces. A number of criteria must be fulfilled for a case to be verified and entered into the Global Witness database. A credible online source of information is required with the victim’s name, details of how they were killed or abducted (including the date and location), and evidence that s/he was a land or environmental activist. In some cases, specialised local organisations are able to investigate and verify the case in-country, meaning that an online source is not necessary. Global Witness includes the friends, colleagues and family of defenders if either they appear to have been killed as a reprisal for the defender’s work, or because they were killed in an attack which also left the defender dead. While Global Witness endeavours to keep its database updated in real-time, verification of cases can be time-consuming, meaning that the names of some individuals are added weeks, or even months, after their death.

      Honduras: Julia Francisco Martinez, widow of indigenous activist Francisco Martinez Marquez who was killed in January 2015
      Honduras: Julia Francisco Martinez, widow of indigenous activist Francisco Martinez Marquez who was killed in January 2015 after months of death threats. His killers have not been brought to justice. Photograph: Giles Clarke/Global Witness

      Why does Global Witness say that its data is incomplete? There are a number of reasons why the information in Global Witness’s database is likely to be incomplete. Many killings go unreported, and very few are investigated by the authorities, which is part of the problem itself. Suppression of the media and restrictions on human rights in some countries reduces the number of organisations and outlets documenting killings. In high-conflict countries it can be difficult to verify that a killing was linked to somebody’s activism. Some countries are likely to be under-represented because principal searches are currently limited to English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Global Witness’s network of local sources is also stronger in some regions than others.

      For full details of Global Witness’s methodology, visit globalwitness.org/defenders/methodology

      see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/01/violence-against-environmental-human-rights-defenders-one-of-the-worst-trends-in-recent-years/

 

Source: The defenders | The Guardian

 

STOP THE KILLINGS: you can help Front Line

July 13, 2017

At the end of last year I announced the new Front Line project to remember human rights defenders who have been killed [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/02/new-on-line-memorial-to-remember-killed-human-rights-defenders/] and now I am asking you for your cooperation. If you yourself do not know any cases to be included, you could still forward the post to any person or organization you think could be helpful.  The main parameters of the project are:


The HRD Memorial – http://www.hrdmemorial.org

The the aim is to commemorate all human rights defenders who have been killed for their peaceful work in defense of human rights since the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders came into effect in 1998.

The criteria for inclusion is simply that the person targeted was a HRD killed because of their peaceful human rights work. (The HRD Memorial doesn’t include disappearance cases because of the difficulty in documenting the cases and trying to determine if the person is alive or dead.)

Front Line Defenders have taken a policy decision to only include a case with the permission of the family because of the risk of re-victimisation.

Any inputs (as well questions) can be sent straight to , Head of HRD Memorial Project at Front Line Defenders [jimATfrontlinedefenders.org>]

Repressive governments continue to kill human rights defenders because they think human rights defenders are expendable people, that the killings will have no consequences and that the HRDs will soon be forgotten. The Memorial would be an important tool in the fight against impunity and to keep the flame alive. The Memorial and the participation of national and international NGOs will provide the basis for an international campaign with the theme “Stop the Killings”, which will be launched in the first quarter of 2018. 

Russian Foreign Agents Law starts to affect monitoring in detention centers

February 4, 2016

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

reports that on 26 January 2016, the Russian Duma (lower chamber of Parliament) adopted at first reading amendments to the law regulating the work of Public Monitoring Commissions (PMCs). There is serious concern that if passed, the draft  amendments will put an end to the independent and effective monitoring of places of detention by excluding the many human rights defenders labeled as foreign agents.  Read the rest of this entry »

Short report by EEAS on the 17th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum, 3-4 December 2015

December 5, 2015

The 17th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum took place in Brussels on 3 and 4 December 2015, bringing together hundreds of civil society organisations from across the globe, representatives from international and regional human rights mechanisms and from the EU institutions and Member States. The Forum is a joint venture between the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission, and the Human Rights & Democracy Network [http://www.hrdn.eu/index.php?menu_selected=122&language=US&sub_menu_selected=768].

The overarching theme for this year’s Forum is Protecting and Promoting Civil society Space. In her address to the Forum, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, stated: I believe that the civil society has a crucial role to play in any policy and in our foreign policy. It is not only a key player, but a main driver for change in all societies, in terms of democracy, good governance, resilience, cohesion, promotion of fundamental human rights.   Freedom of expression is one of the most powerful weapons against radicalisation and terrorism. To better protect our citizens we need above all to build strong democratic institutions and a healthy democratic dialogue. I am very often asked whether security should not be the main focus, more than human rights. But there is no security without human rights”.

She also called for renewed efforts to fight attempts to control the work of civil society in many countries around the world: “During the last years, the space for civil society has shrunk in many countries”. “These trends demand a redoubling of our efforts in the human rights sphere. The European Union, the institutions and myself personally, will do all we can to protect civil society organisations fighting for human rights and protect human rights defender on an individual basis.”

The theme of this year’s NGO Forum – Protecting and Promoting Civil Society Space – reflects the EU’s strong commitment to put Freedom of Association and Freedom of Expression at the heart of the EU’s human rights policy as essential foundations for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development and participation in public affairs.

This year’s event saw contributions from the current UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association, Maina Kiai; the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst; Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, MEP Barbara Lochbihler; the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, Amb. Maria Leissner; Sakharov Prize recipient Memorial, represented by Oleg Orlov; alongside many representatives from civil society, Human Rights Defenders, NGOs, the EU Institutions and many representatives from EU member states.

The forum looked at the recent EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression, as key tools enabling the EU to promote and protect freedom of opinion and expression and to counter the clear and disturbing trend over the last few years towards an increasingly restricted space for independent civil society as well as outright threats, intimidation and violence that civil society organisations and representatives, journalists, media actors and other individuals face in many countries across the world because of the exercise of their rights.

Given the scale of the problem and its constantly changing manifestations, urgent action is required not just to understand the scale and evolving nature of the threats, but particularly to identify ways to achieve effective and concerted policy responses and counter actions.

The EU is committed, as indicated in the EU strategy on human rights and democracy and its Action Plan (2015-2019), to address threats to civil society space, through actions that support laws and policies to protect human rights defenders; report on and counter threats to civil society space; and oppose unjustified restrictions to freedoms of assembly and association.

Engagement with civil society is essential for the ongoing work the EU is undertaking to help realise human rights, indivisible and universal for all people. The Forum discussions provided a significant opportunity for an interactive dialogue among representatives from the EU member states, the European Institutions (European Parliament, Council, European External Action Service, European Commission) and global civil society and human rights defenders from all over the world, working on the promotion and protection of human rights. The outcome of the Forum will be an important stepping stone for ensuring effective EU action and future policy developments in this field.

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/international-cooperative-consortium-protect-the-defenders-launched-on-2-december/

 

Source: European Union – EEAS (European External Action Service) | PRESS RELEASE: PROTECTING & PROMOTING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE: 17th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum, 2015

Russian human rights defender Andrei Mironov meets his death in Ukraine

May 27, 2014

Picture taken May 25 shows the domestic and foreign passports of Russian rights defender Andrei Mironov, who was reportedly killed with Italian journalist, Andrea Rocchelli, near the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk. AFP

(Picture taken May 25 shows the domestic and foreign passports of Russian rights defender Andrei Mironov, reportedly killed near Ukrainian town of Slavyansk. AFP POOL-/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

“It’s hard for me to believe that Andrei Mironov is dead” writes  Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter of the Toronto Star on 25 May 2014. Indeed a terrible shock. I met him for the first time in 2004 when he accompanied the MEA Laureate Lida Yusupova of Memorial to the ceremony in Geneva. According to an Agence France- Presse report from Slavyansk, Ukraine, the veteran Russian human rights defender and sometime war zone fixer, used up the last of his nine lives on Sunday. He was acting as a translator for Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, who was also killed. According to a French photographer who escaped with leg wounds, the two men were hit by shrapnel from mortar shells as government troops and pro-Russian separatists continued to battle for territory in eastern Ukraine.

Olivia Ward describes Andrei as a “slight, self-effacing man of 60, with a puckish sense of humour, he belied his frail appearance with an iron will to do good in the world. In 1986, that got him a year in a Soviet labour camp as an “anti Soviet dissident” – a time he used to channel his talent for languages, including French and Italian. Nor did he let up on government abuses after the fall of the Soviet Union. As a human rights campaigner linked with the venerable rights organization Memorial , he snapped at the heels of Boris Yeltsin’s and Vladimir Putin’s governments, especially during the two bloody wars when Russian troops battled Chechen separatist fighters…..“You don’t understand,” he rasped. “I have to go and witness what is happening. If I don’t, who will?

Andrei dodged so many bullets in his decades of battling impunity that it is hard to believe he is gone. It would be harder still if the truth were buried along with him” concludes Olivia Ward, who covered the former Soviet Union as bureau chief and correspondent from 1992 to 2002. For the full story see:  Death in Ukraine: bitter end for Russian human rights hero | Toronto Star.

 

 

Russia: “foreign agent” law considered constitutional and upheld against Memorial

April 10, 2014

 

In a hearing observed on 8 April by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint programme), the Saint Petersburg City Court upheld that the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) “Memorial”, a prominent Russian NGO was performing the functions of a “foreign agent” and had to register as such for its human rights work.

At the end of yesterday’s hearing, which lasted less than an hour, the Observatory mission delegate reported that the judge interrupted ADC “Memorial’s lawyers on several occasions throughout the session, thereby hindering their capacity to develop their arguments and breaching their right to a fair trial and due process, while no one objection or remark was voiced when the prosecutor was speaking. Once again, the City Court pointed a report submitted by ADC “Memorial” to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2012 as the only evidence of its so-called “political activities Read the rest of this entry »

Kulaeva: The struggle for human rights in Russia won’t end with Sochi

February 15, 2014

(Stefania Kulaeva)

This is a long but excellent to piece to read over the weekend by Stefania Kulaeva of the remarkable NGO Memorial in Russia:

AT THE TIME of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi it is important to remember the human rights abuse of minorities and their defenders in Russia. This is a question for gay people but also for Roma, immigrant workers and members of other ethnic communities. Read the rest of this entry »