Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published “Human Rights in Armenia 2014” Annual Report. The report reflects on the Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Political Persecutions, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, The Rights of the Child, Protection of Labor Rights.
«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Stop the Violence in Khimki! A Public Appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev


Human rights defenders and civic activists have called on President Dmitry Medvedev to dismiss the prosecutor of the Khimki district and the heads of the district’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSB - officials who have done nothing to solve the crimes against Konstantin Fetisov and other civic activists in Khimki.

Dear Mr. President:

On 4 November 2010 an attempt was made on Konsantin Fetisov’s life. Konstantin Fetisov is an organizer and participant in many of the public actions in defence of Khimki Forest and, in general, a defender of the rights of the people of Khimiki. He is also head of the local branch of the Right Cause party. As a result of the attack upon him, he was taken to the hospital with a fractured skull and in a coma. His condition remains critical.

This is one more crime against civic activists in Khimki. A concise list of the victims of these crimes reads like a report from a battle zone, and is included as an Addendum to this appeal.

All the attacks have been committed against citizens who have spoken out against the unlawful actions of the head of the Khimki administration and have accused him of violating Russian law. None of the attacks have been investigated. There is no hope that the attack on Konstantin Fetisov will ever be solved.

In those cases where the attackers have been identified, they have been either hired criminals, or members of law enforcement agencies. However, in all the cases of violent reprisals the interests of the district’s political leaders, and of the businesses linked with them, can be traced.

In this regard, we call on the President of Russia to dismiss the prosecutor of the Khimki district and the heads of the district’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSB - officials who have done nothing to solve the crimes against Konstantin Fetisov and other civic activists in Khimki.

Furthermore, we ask the President of Russia to order a federal-level investigation of these crimes by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation with the goal not only of identifying those guilty of the attack on Konstantin Fetisov, but also to investigate the entire system of organized attacks and the corrupt ties within Moscow Region’s Khimki district. We also ask that V. V. Strelchenko be relieved of his duties as head of the Khimki administrative district during the investigation, since there are grounds to believe that he would seek to hinder an objective and fair investigation.

While gathering signatures for this Appeal, we learned about the attack on the journalist Oleg Kashin. He was one of the first to respond to the crimes against civic activists in Khimki. The attacks against Konstantin Fetisov and Oleg Kashin are both part of the same series of organized criminal attacks.

For as long as this brazen and open system of organized crime continues in Khimki, it will not only continue to undermine the rule of law in Russia, but also discredit the entire Russian system of government in the eyes of its citizens.

Ludmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the Movement For Human Rights
Oleg Orlov, Aleksandr Cherkasov, Memorial Human Rights Centre
Leonid Gozman, co-chair of the Right Cause party
Svetlana Gannushkina, chair of the Civic Assistance Committee
Alla Gerber, president of the Holocaust Foundation, member of the Public Chamber
Boris Altshuller, Rights of the Child, member of the Public Chamber
Elena Topoleva, member of the Public Chamber
Oleg Zykov, member of the Public Chamber
Aleksandr Brod, member of the Public Chamber
Valentin Gefter, director of the Institute for Human Rights
Elena Panfilova, director of the Centre for Anticorruption Investigations and Initiatives: Transparency International – Russia
Yury Dzhibladze, president of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
Aleksei Simonov, chairman of Glasnost Defence Foundation
Ilia Ponomarev, deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly
Aleksei Yablokov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chair of a branch of the Yabloko party
Sergei Kanaev, leader of the Federal Association of Automobile Drivers of Russia
Aleksandr Nikitin, Nikolai Rybakov, Bellona Ecological Rights Defence Centre
Elena Zubakina, director for development of the Union for the Preservation of Birds of Russia
Evgeny Shvarts, director for policy and nature conservation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - Russia
Elena Kostiuchenko, Novaya gazeta journalist
Andrei Margulev, coordinator for the Union of Ecological NGOs
Aleksei Yaroshenko, Greenpeace Russia


List of attacks on civic activists in the town of Khimki

2006: attacks on two journalists of the independent Khimki newspaper Grazhdanskii Forum (Civic Forum) Yury Granin and Yury Sliusarev – the skull of one was fractured, the jaw of the other was broken; thankfully both survived, but their newspaper has shut down.

April, 2007: Local police beat up participants in a rally against the barbaric reburial of the remains of soldiers who fought to defend Moscow in WWII.

May, 2007: The care of M. Beketov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda (Khimki Truth), was blown up.

February 2008: A. Yurov, director of the Civic Accord Foundation was attacked. He suffered eight knife wounds. According to him, this attack was a reprisal by the local authorities for a letter he wrote to V. V. Putin in which he severely criticized them.

February 2008: A. Busalaev, the organizer of a demonstration against an increase in housing and utility charges, was severely beaten by the police and sentenced to 15 days in jail.

July 2008: An officially sanctioned demonstration about environmental issues in the town micro-district of Skhodnia was effectively disrupted and turned into a street brawl by a group of intoxicated young men under the leadership of two deputy heads of the Khimki administration – E. Piterimov and A. Danilovsky.

November 2008: An attempt to assassinate M. Beketov, the chief editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda. He was found near his home in a coma with a fractured skull. The next day unidentified people telephoned the hospital threatening to finish off Beketov.

January 2009: The lawyer S. Markelov, a prominent human rights defender who had been defending M. Beketov in a defamation case brought by V. Strelchenko, was shot dead in the centre of Moscow.

January 2009: A. Parfenov, active in the defence of Khimki Forest, was beaten in the entrance to his apartment building.

March 2009: Sergei Protazanov, technical editor for the newspaper Grazhdanskoe soglasie (Civic Accord), died after a brutal beating. At the time he was working on an issue of the newspaper dealing with electoral violations in the elections for the head of Khimki town administration.

July 2009: A. Pchelinchev, director of the local Foundation Against Corruption, Fraud and Dishonesty, was beaten up and shot in the mouth with a traumatic pistol. Fortunately, the doctors were able to save him.

November 2009: There were two attacks on 70-year-old Khimki Forest defender V. Kapyttsev. On one occasion he was attacked with a knife; and on another occasion his house was blown up. Luckily, he was not injured.

July 2010: Conflict between defenders of Khimki Forest and those felling the trees, without documentation giving permission, in order to build a highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Employees of a private security company attacked the activists with metal bars. An unidentified person attempted to run over one environmental activist, E. Chirikova, with a car. On 23 July, about 50 masked people wearing Nazi insignia attacked the environmental activists. Special OMON police units detained peaceful defenders of the Forest and journalists, causing physical injury.

August 2010: Following a press conference in the centre of Moscow, special OMON police officers from Moscow Region, in an unprecedentedly rude manner, used force to arrest E. Chirikova, the leader of the Khimki Forest defenders in order to forcibly deliver her to an interrogation.

September 2010: Kontantin Fetisov is attacked for the first time. He is severely beaten.

November 2010: An attempt is made to kill Konstantin Fetisov