CSO of the Week: Siberia without Torture

Week-ending 31 January 2020

Russia: Judicial harassment of members of “Siberia Without Torture” Mr. Svyatoslav Khromenkov and Ms. Natalya Varshney

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your intervention in the following situation in Russia. 

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Public Verdict Foundation about the judicial harassment of Mr. Svyatoslav Khromenkov and Ms. Natalya Varshney, respectively the Director and the psychologist of the NGO “Siberia without Torture”, based in Irkutsk, Russia.

According to the information received, on December 12, 2019, law enforcement authorities broke down the door of a flat belonging to Mr. Svyatoslav Khromenkov to conduct a search. Mr. Khromenkov was abroad at the time but his mother was present. After twelve hours the authorities left with three hard drives, three laptops and equipment for conducting live streams. They also confiscated a mobile phone and a sum of money (approx. 2,800 Euro) belonging to Khromenkov’s mother, who was also charged under article 318 of the criminal code for using violence against a police officer. Allegedly, she hit a policeman’s hand with a wicket gate. According to Mr. Khromenkov, who has a video of the incident, the policeman’s contact with the gate was purely accidental. Officials claimed that the search was connected to a fraud investigation against another person. However, Mr. Khromenkov has not been in contact with this person for five years. The authorities refused to present a written record of the search, as is required under Russian law. They also brought their own witnesses to attest the search, instead of asking neighbours or random people in the street, as is standard practice. FIDH, 28 January 2020

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