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Threats and punishments of human rights activists have gained a systematic character in Russia

A statement of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights:

�The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights would like to turn the attention of society and of the executive and representative authorities to the sad statistics regarding cases of punishment of human rights activists and the general lack of due reactions from the law-enforcement organs.�

One year ago, on June 19th 2004 in St. Petersburg nationalists shot the leading expert for inter-ethnic relations, senior research worker of the Institute for Anthropology and Ethnography, famous ethnographer and human rights activist Nikolai Girenko, who often testified in court as an expert witness against national extremists. The country was shocked, not only by the fact of the brutal murder of the 64-year-old anti-fascist itself, but also by the cynicism of the Russian nationalists, who triumphed at the tragedy and declared on their homepage that after Girenko, they had sentenced another human rights activist and anti-fascist to death, the historian and director of the United Europe Institute (city of Oryol) Dmitri Krayukhin, who served as a witness in the case against local department of �Russian National Unity�.

The court and the Office of the Public Prosecutor that D. Krayukhin asked for help refused to protect him or to bring the people that threatened his life to criminal account. Moreover, the Orlyov Office of the Public Prosecutor, which had carried out an investigation on the activities of the local �Russian National Unity� department, passed personal data about Krayukhin to members of this organization. Leaflets with his personal address, phone number and the call to punish him were spread all over the town. Krayukhin received envelopes with the stamp of the Regional Department for the Fight Against Organized Crime containing Russian National Unity leaflets, threats to kill him, and also copies of articles on the death of N. Girenko with unambiguous warnings that Krayukhin could meet the same fate as the anti-fascist from St. Petersburg. Another appeal to the Regional Office of the Public Prosecutor only led to one thing: his request was handed down to the District�s Office of the Public Prosecutor, which had already earlier refused to file a criminal charge.

Dozens of Russian and international organizations decided to support Krayukhin and sent appeals to the Russian Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, to the Orlyov Office of the Public Prosecutor and to the Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. The Moscow Helsinki Group, the international network �Youth human rights movement�, the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, the all-Russian movement �For Human Rights� and regional organizations from Tyumen, Ivanovo, Khabarovsk and Vladimir sent such letters. Also Amnesty International decided to support Krayukhin. Only after that, in January 2005, did the Orlyov region Office of the Public Prosecutor start to examine the reasons for the negligence of the law-enforcement organs in connection with the people who threatened Krayukhin.

This summer, society again shuddered from the news of a bloody punishment of a human rights activist from Vokruta (Republic of Komi), Lyudmila Zhorovel, and her son Konstantin, who were killed in their apartment on June 21st 2005. Recently L. Zhorovel had been threatened and urged to quit her activities regarding civil rights� violations by local authorities in the field of tariffing of housing services. It was also well-known that not long before her death the human rights activist prepared a request asking the Office of the Public Prosecutor to start a criminal investigation regarding the mayor of Vokruta and a class action suit demanding to return the residents of Vokruta money that had been illegally taken away from them to the benefit of the housing and communal services.

Only one day after the bestial double murder the law-enforcement organs officially made statements on the case. When journalists asked them to comment the incident, representatives of the Vokruta Office of the Public Prosecutor dismissed them with the cynical phrase �Don�t make a mountain out of a molehill�!

While these three incidents initially seem unconnected, closer analysis leads to the conclusion that there is an increasing tendency in Russia to physically eliminate people who are active in the field of human or civil rights. On one hand, an attack on human rights activists can be read between the lines in publications of the most powerful statesmen. On the other hand, there is an obvious negligence and even wilful ignorance of the law-enforcement organs regarding the activities of national extremists and corrupt officials. Likewise it is no coincidence that in recent months many Russian regional centers were flooded almost simultaneously by leaflets, newspapers and inscriptions containing xenophobic content. However there is no search for the authors and distributors of the racist materials, just the perpetrators of the crimes against human rights activists have not been revealed.

Against this background the creation of an atmosphere of permissiveness for the executers of bloody self-justice is strongly supported. Unfortunately, Russia slowly, but steadily slips into structures of a Mafia type of state, where the law is replaced by criminal conceptions.

The Moscow Bureau for Human Rights demands that the law-enforcement organs immediately and fairly investigate the murders and persecutions of Russian human rights activists.

Source: antirasizm.ru

� 1993-2003

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