Statement by the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition
Russia is continuing to witness widespread persecution of dissidents. The authorities reacted to the mass protest rallies with police provocations and openly strong-arm tactics against its opponents.
On 6 May the police brutally broke up a demonstration in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square. Hundreds of protestors were beaten up and arrested. In the following months, 13 of the participants were put behind bars on trumped-up charges of riot.
On 5 October persecution took a new turn: a video of unknown origin with unattested accusations against left-wing activists was shown on NTV and led to new arrests.
On 19 October Leonid Razvozhayev, a member of the opposition, was kidnapped and unlawfully brought to Moscow after a special operation in Ukraine where the rule of law was flagrantly disregarded. In Moscow he was tried in a closed court and arrested. His lawyers and members of his family were not informed.
Activist and aide to the opposition MP Ilya Ponomaryev, Leonid Razvozhayev was, it seems, kidnapped on Friday evening from outside the UNHCR office in Kyiv, Ukraine. He appeared a few days later in a Moscow jail, having confessed to criminal charges. Ponomaryev says that Razvozhayev was coerced into making these confessions.
Human rights campaigners from the Public Monitoring Committee managed to get to see Razvozhayev. They discovered that special service operatives had used torture and psychological pressure to get him to sign a statement inculpating his comrades. We also know that V. Markin from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation lied publicly when he said that Razvozhayev had given himself up and voluntarily confessed his guilt and that of his comrades.
In this connection the Russian Opposition Coordinating Council:
- — states that the Russian government has openly adopted violent measures against its opponents, brutally violating both Russian and international
- — demands that the government and Vladimir Putin personally put an end to the pressurising of supporters of the opposition;
- — demands protection for the family of Leonid Razvozhayev;
- — will strive for the seizure of assets belong to all people (those giving the orders and those who implement them) involved in kidnappings, torture and the unlawful prosecution of opposition activists;
- — reminds Russia's political leadership, law enforcement officers and the judiciary that crimes against Russian citizens committed by them will not remain unpunished.
Priority action plan
(appended to the Statement by the CC members)
In this connection the CC will implement the following measures:
- — compile a list of people party to the organisation of unlawful criminal proceedings relating to the 6 May case;
- — organise appeals to the relevant bodies of the EU and USA, hold talks with EU officials. The campaign will start with a ———— — request for entry to the EU and USA to be refused and for the freezing of assets in EU and USA belonging to all those who were party to the unlawful prosecution, torture and kidnapping of people involved in events of 6 May;
- — organise appeals to the relevant bodies of the UN relating to the torture of Razvozhayev, and to hold talks on this subject;
- — strengthen the coordination of lawyers for the accused in the 6 May case;
- — bring in additional lawyers for the defence of Leonid Razvozhayev;
- — bring in lawyers to organise appeals and statements relating to the kidnapping and torture of Razvozhayev;
- — collect funds for the defence of the accused in the 6 May case;
- — work with the families of people who have been arrested;
- — hold mass protest rallies in support of political prisoners on Saturday 27 October.
Some clarification relating to the plan. The plan is constantly being extended. If you have ideas about what it should include (both realistic and effective), write to us.