Week-ending 12 February 2021
While acting as observers of the peaceful protests that were taking place in support of Aleksei Navalny in various cities, seven members of the Committee Against Torture – Evgeniy Chilikov, Sergei Shunin, Igor Kalyapin, Timur Rakhmatulin, Ekaterina Vanslova, Konstantin Gusev and Magomed Alamov – were victims of arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, issued a call for urgent intervention in their support. The Observatory said the actions against the seven seemed aimed only at punishing them for legitimate human rights activities and called on the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Konstantin Gusev and Magomed Alanov, to drop all charges against them and Ekaterina Vanslova.
Committee Against Torture is an NGO based in Nizhny Novgorod. Founded in 2000, by 2020 through the efforts of the Committee Against Torture 147 law-enforcement officers have been convicted for using torture.
Website of the Committee Against Torture: ‘Open Letter by Igor Kalyapin to First Deputy Prosecutor of the Nizhny Novgorod region Vyachelav Rekhtin: “Exercising their constitutional right provided in Article 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, on 23 January 2021 citizens conducted a public event on the territory of Nizhny Novgorod city. During the public event, the Committee Against Torture observers established that the citizens were subjected to random and arbitrary apprehension, and subsequently they were taken to the police stations where, in violation of the constitutional right to qualified legal assistance, defence lawyers of the administratively detained were not allowed for a long time (or at all).“
FIDH, 10 February 2021: “The Observatory has been informed about the administrative detention and judicial harassment of Konstantin Gusev and Magomed Alamov in Pyatigorsk, as well as of the arbitrary detention and subsequent release of Evgeniy Chilikov, Sergey Shunin, Ekaterina Vanslova and Igor Kalyapin in Nijni Novogorod and Timur Rakhmatulin in Orenburg. The seven human rights defenders are members of the NGO Committee Against Torture, a member of the OMCT SOS-Torture Network. On January 23, 2021, Evgeniy Chilikov was arbitrarily detained on charges of “violation by a participant of a public event of the established procedure for holding a meeting, rally, demonstration, march or picket” (Part 5 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation) while monitoring the protests in support of Alexei Navalny in Nizhny Novogorod. He was released from the local police station two hours after his arrest under the obligation to report to the police upon request. On January 31, 2021, Konstantin Gusev, Magomed Alamov, Ekaterina Vanslova, Sergey Shunin, Igor Kalyapin and Timur Rakhmatulin were arbitrarily arrested while monitoring the protest in support of Alexei Navalny in Pyatigorsk, Nijni Novogorod and Orenburg. Sergey Shunin was arbitrarily arrested as a suspect of “participating in an unauthorised meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket that caused interference with the functioning of life support facilities, transport or social infrastructure” (Part 6.1 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation). He was subsequently released on the evening of January 31, 2021, pending trial. On the same day, Igor Kalyapin was arbitrarily arrested and subsequently released without charges. On February 1, 2021, the Court of First Instance of Nizhny Novgorod charged Ms. Vanslova with “violation by a participant of a public event of the established procedure for holding a meeting, rally, demonstration, march or picket” (Part 5 of Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation). Ms. Vanslova was imposed a fine of 10,000 rubles (approximately 100 euro) and was subsequently released. Konstantin Gusev and Magomed Alamov spent a day in the preliminary detention facility at the Department of Internal Affairs in Pyatigorsk and on February 1, 2021, the Court of First Instance of Pyatigorsk city charged both human rights defenders with “organising of mass events that cause violation of public order” (Part 1 of Art. 20.2 of the Administrative Code) and ordered 10 days of administrative detention for each at the Department of Internal Affairs in Pyatigorsk. At the time of publication of this urgent appeal, the actions for which they have been charged remain unknown. Timur Rakhmatulin was arbitrarily detained for two days on charges of “disobedience to police officers” and “participation in an unauthorised meeting”. On February 2, 2021, the charges were dropped and he was subsequently released. The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment of Evgeniy Chilikov, Sergey Shunin, Igor Kalyapin, Timur Rakhmatulin and Ekaterina Vanslova as well as the administrative detention and judicial harassment of Konstantin Gusev, Magomed Alamov, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Konstantin Gusev and Magomed Alanov, to drop all charges against them and Ekaterina Vanslova.“