Legal Case of the Week: Khabarovsk protester Aleksandr Prikhodko faces charges for repeated violation of public assembly regulations
Arrest of RusNews journalist / Photo via OVD-Info: screenshot from RusNews YouTube channel

Aleksandr Prikhodko was one of over 20 peaceful protesters detained by police in Khabarovsk on 10 October 2020. The Russian authorities opened an investigation against him in relation to an offence under Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code (“repeated violation of the established order of holding a public assembly”). Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both called for the charges to be dropped.

Human Rights Watch, Wednesday, 14 October 2020: Police in Khabarovsk, in Russia’s Far East, on October 10, 2020 beat peaceful protesters and arbitrarily detained over 20 people, Human Rights Watch said today. Alexander Prikhodko, born in 1977, who was among those arrested, is under investigation for repeatedly violating public assembly regulations, a criminal offense under Russian law punishable by up to five years in prison. “Russian authorities should immediately drop the case against Prikhodko,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “They should also rescind the law permitting criminal prosecution of peaceful activists.” The protests in Khabarovsk have been ongoing since the unexpected arrest of the popular regional governor, Sergei Furgal, in mid-July. Furgal is in a Moscow jail pending trial for several murders dating back 15 years. Furgal denies the allegations, and his supporters are convinced his prosecution is politically motivated. Furgal won an election for his seat in 2018 in a contest against a candidate from the country’s ruling party, United Russia. President Vladimir Putin removed Furgal from his position following his arrest due to “loss of trust.” The city’s residents rallied in support of Furgal, demanding his release and the transfer of the investigation from the capital back to Khabarovsk. They were soon joined by residents in other cities in the region.

Amnesty International, Thursday, 15 October 2020: Russian authorities have intensified their crackdown on peaceful protesters in the region of Khabarovsk Krai in Russia’s Far East. For the first time since the protests began three months ago, OMON (riot police) forces dispersed a peaceful gathering of demonstrators and subjected some of its participants to severe beatings. At least one peaceful protester has been charged by the Investigative Committee (a stand-alone agency tasked with investigation of serious crime) under the notorious “Dadin’s law” for “repeated violations” of Russia’s draconian legislation on mass gatherings. […] Amnesty International urges the Russian authorities to drop all charges against Aleksandr Prikhodko and all others who have been charged solely for protesting peacefully. The authorities have an obligation to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly for all, and should allow peaceful protests in Khabarovsk Krai, and elsewhere, to continue without undue restrictions or fear of reprisals, including by repealing Article 212.1 of the Criminal Code. The authorities should also launch a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the actions of OMON forces in Khabarovsk on 10 October, and ensure that any officer reasonably suspected of using unlawful force against participants of a peaceful rally are held to account.”

RFE/RL, Saturday, 10 October 2020: Police in the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk detained several dozen protesters on October 10 — the first such crackdown since rallies against the arrest of the provincial governor started three months ago. The city on the Chinese border has seen regular protests since Governor Sergei Furgal was arrested on July 9 on decades-old murder-related charges and taken to Moscow. Furgal has denied the charges, which his supporters say were engineered by his opponents with help from the Kremlin. Thousands marched through the city chanting slogans, such as “Wake up, Russia” and “[President Vladimir] Putin’s a thief.” They also briefly held a rally in front of the municipal offices before police in riot gear intervened. Later in the evening, several hundred protesters gathered again on the main square, defying warnings from police that the demonstration wasn’t authorized.

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