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.  

Search on site


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

Experts Testify as the Controversial Niznhy Novgorod “Book Trial” Continues


On January 11, 2013. the Dzerzhinsky District Court in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Region (Oblast) presided by Judge Olga Khaydukova proceeded with the third session.

The trial is reviewing the Nizhny Novgorod city Prosecutor’s request to deem the International Tribunal for Chechnya book “extremist.” The book is a two-volume monograph co-authored by Nizhny Novgorod Memorial’s chair Stanislav Dmitrievsky, Memorial’s Usama Baisanov, and Oksana Chelysheva. To a large extent, it is based on Memorial HRC’s reports from the North Caucasus, including those written by Natalia Estemirova.

This court session concentrated on the testimony of the experts of the Privolzhie Regional Centre of Court Expertise Larisa Teslenko and Irina Zhiganova. Both of them authored the linguistic review which was used as basis for the Prosecutor’s case against the book. The court also reviewed a number of petitions and requested the lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, who peer-reviewed the monograph, to attend the next session as a witness.

The court session lasted from 11 am to 6 pm without breaks and the questioning took at least six hours. The experts were questioned by the editor and co-author of the monograph Stanislav Dmitrievsky, his attorney Alexandr Manov, and Igor Kaliapin, the Chair of the NGO Committee Against Torture, who took part in the proceedings as an “interested party”. The members of the Prosecution and the Ministry of Justice did not have questions for the experts.

The first group of questions touched on the linguistic study not corresponding to minimal standards of scientific writing. For instance, most quotes from the 1,200 page-long monograph are not cited, therefore it is practically impossible to find the source of the quote. Also lacking is the correct list of used literature and a description of the experts methodology. The work is vibrant with inaccuracies, even with some parts of the text missing, and the two-volume publication is in one instance labeled a leaflet. The questioned experts could not locate a single one of their quotes in the book making it impossible for them to substantiate to the court that the quoted excerpts are quoted without distortion. Interestingly, it appears that the text of the expert analysis that the experts had handy was different from the one in the case files. The legal procedure does not allow for the originals could not be added to the file on the spot. That is why the Judge decided to request them from the experts’ institution.

The other group of questions had to do with definitions. The experts could not define terms widely used (in their study) such as “government authority”, “state authority”; explain when the word “Russian” might not stand for an ethnic identity but a connection with a state (such as in the phrase “Russian-Japanese War”); explain the meaning of the term “serious civilian crimes”, as such crimes are among others tried by international tribunals in the experts’ opinion. The experts also stated that to determine definitions of legal and other specialized concepts they “have no right” to turn to special dictionaries, as they must review all the words in their “generally-used” definitions.

The experts stated that they analyzed phrases that contained negative and offensive attitudes towards ethnic groups out of context of the book and authors’ relationships to these phrases. They clarified that in his letter regarding the goals of the study, the operative of the Centre for Countering Extremism Sergey Filimonov simply asked them to find such expressions. Establishing the purpose and meaning of these phrases in the structure of the books or how those reflect the authors’ stancewas not part of their task . Thus, they used quotes in the book from nationalist websites which called to wipe out Chechens. The book writers used those quotes to exemplify the level of hate that overtook a part of the Russian society at the time when the Second Chechen War began in 1999. However, the experts mixed those with the writers’ own stance so that these were used by the Prosecution to substantiate claims that the book was extremist. The same can be said for the quote from a letter by the czarist General Yermolov, which is inscribed on the Grozny monument.

However, there were other instances when the experts bravely turned to the “contextual method” and found all kinds of hidden messages and sub-texts which are generally used in international law. More than that, they stated that the authors’ numerous references to historical sources and documents of international law is no other then a “propagandist trick or device” aimed to conceal the “real state of affairs.” They also stated that the red colour of the book’s cover suggests a certain “covert call”. However they could not explain the reasons behind such exotic conclusions.

Experts’ answers more than once were met with laughter in the courtroom, however, unlike last session, no one was removed from the chamber. It seems thatthe judge too realized that such reactions to the expert’s behavior were natural for the public.

The experts confirmed that they did not refer to the term “Russian State Power,” that the prosecution alleges was used to denegrade itInstead, it appeared for the first time in the Nizhny Novgorod Prosecutor’s statement.In view of this, Mr. Dmitrievsky reminded the court of the contents of the Article 3 of Russian Constitution,“the only source of power in the Russian Federation is its multi-national (ethnic) people.” He asked whetherthe Prosecutor’s statement is to bee deemed extremist and not the monograph.

Also, in the course of the session an appeal was made for the third time to allow the Publishing House Novaya Gazeta to participate in these proceedings as an “interested party”. This time the appeal came from attorney Manov, who was representing the Publisher. The appeal was rejected again. The entire text of the monograph is available on the Novaya Gazeta’s website.

The court satisfied Stanislav Dmitrievsky’s request to have the academic reviewer of the monograph Dr. Karinna Moskalenko appear as witness at the next session.

The court also decided that the documents of the initial investigation (dosledstvennaya proverka) are to be added to the case file..

The next session is scheduled for 14:00, January 23, 2013.