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

Letter from arrested environmentalist Andrei Zatoka to the Prosecutor General of Turkmenistan

Дата публикации: 

Please pass this letter to the Prosecutor General of Turkmenistan, the Russian Federation Embassy in Turkmenistan and the OSCE representative office in the event of my arrest, disappearance or accident.
A. Zatoka, 20 July 2008

“I, Andrei Lvovych Zatoka, citizen of Turkmenistan and Russia, permanently resident in Dashoguz, Turkmenistan (address given) have for a long period for reasons unknown to me have been subjected to persecution from the State Security bodies. From April 2008 I began noticing that I was being observed, and during the period from 11 to 18 May and at the beginning of June unidentified persons were in my flat secretly and against my will.

There is also to this time a ban on my travel abroad. This ban was imposed, it would seem, in December 2006 when I was arrested and prosecuted on a previously trumped up scenario at the order of the Security Service [MNB]. The criminal charges ended in a suspended sentence and up till September 2007 I could not leave the country due to this conviction. However in September a Decree on pardon was issued and there were no longer legal grounds for restricting travel abroad. Nonetheless, in November 2007 I learned in the Migration Service that the ban on my travel had not been removed, and in February I was told over the phone (in response to a letter from 16 November 2007) that the MNB had received confirmation that the ban was in force.
(More details follow about vain attempts to have the ban removed or receive an explanation. This is of great importance since he cannot travel to Moscow to visit his children and elderly mother whom he has not seen for two years).

I thus have grounds for suspecting that yet another provocation or prosecution is being prepared. Those who got into my flat could have planted items of a criminal nature (as was the case in December 2006 when they planted an ampoule with “snake’s poison”) to use as material evidence of a crime. It is also possible that bugging devices were installed.

There has also been psychological pressure on friends with whom I’m in contact (details are provided in the letter).

Andrei Zatoka goes on to describe the methods used by the law enforcement agencies in December 2006. They bear a worrying resemblance to the events preceding his arrest on 20 October.

He says that the interrogations during that first criminal prosecution made it plain to him that it was the security services who had ordered the prosecution, although he remains unclear as to why.

“My arrest provoked vehement response from environmental organizations in many countries since I am fairly well-known as an environmental expert and civic activist of international level. As this campaign developed, the Security Service interrogations became ever less hard-line, and finally someone up top decided to confine themselves to a suspended sentence”.

He states that he agreed to this compromise and did not insist on a total acquittal.

Not all equipment removed from him was returned although they were not confiscated by the court.

“One thus has the highly disturbing situation where the State Security bodies have absolute influence on other enforcement and administrative structures, force them into all kinds of violations of legislation including criminal offences, standing on the sidelines and no answering for anything. I consider this situation to be extremely dangerous for the country since any citizen is unprotected in the face of arbitrary rule and lawlessness. And an attempt to conceal the original official violations can lead to even graver crimes as happened with me.

I would ask you to show maximum attention in investigating the incident over which this letter has been sent to you, and defend myself and my friends from unlawful persecution.

Written by hand on 20 June 2008, with several copies held in sealed envelopes and in electronic form by different people.

A. Zatoka”.

A list of the car numbers following Zatoka in 2008 is appended.