1 March 2021
‘Criminal prosecutions of human rights activists have become more frequent’
Dmitry Kamynin and Vladimir Taranenko, coordinators of the human rights organization Siberian Justice were remanded in custody in Kemerovo. They have been in pre-trial detention for more than two months on charges of drug possession and extortion, but their arrest was not publicly known until a few days ago. Kamynin has already gone on hunger strike in protest against his bullying by the prison staff.
[News.ru’s investigation into what exactly they are accused of, and what has happened to Dmitry Kamynin and Vladimir Taranenko in the pre-trial detention centre, can be read in Russian here].
Valery Borshchev, co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, told News.ru in an interview that criminal prosecutions against human rights activists have increased recently.
As an example, he cites the prosecution of human rights defender Yevgeny Khasoev in Irkutsk. According to Borshchev, the recent actions of the security forces are interpreted as the beginning of a new campaign: the government has decided to fight against human rights defenders in this way, “because their authority is undisputed.” However, usually the authorities have preferred to deal with human rights defenders by using more humane methods.
Borshchev said,”Basically, of course, they use the tag ‘foreign agent,’ for example, as in the case of human rights organizations Public Verdict and Memorial, but they decided not to stop there, they decided to move to outright repression. This is a serious portent, but it is simultaneously also a sign that the authorities do recognize the strengh and authority of human rights defenders and that they are, in general, tricky to deal with. The ‘foreign agent’ tag is not appropriate in such cases. So they decided to resort to other more repressive measures.”
He adds that he does not know of cases in which human rights defenders have been lawfully prosecuted. Borshchev says that all the latest cases are “rigged to varying degrees.”
Translated by Graham Jones