7 March 2021
Pictured left: Valery Borshchev, co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of the authors of the law on public oversight in the Russian Federation, a former member of the Moscow Public Oversight Commission and on of the signatories of the appeal.
Members of various committee of the Moscow Public Oversight Commission (POC) have signed an appeal in support of human rights activist Marina Litvinovich, for whose exclusion from the POC more than half of its members voted.
The appeal, published on Ekho Moskvy, was signed by over 20 people, including Valery Borshchev, Evgeny Yenikeev, Andrei Babushkin, Eva Merkacheva, Liudmila Alpern, Sergei Sorokin, Zoya Svetova and others. Four of the signatories are members of the POC of the Moscow Region.
“The very possibility of expelling one of the most active members of the commission on trumped-up grounds undermines the credibility of the POC as an institution of civil control over the observance of human rights. And it violates the Law on Public Oversight,” the appeal says.
The signatories noted that in 2020 Litvinovich made 151 visits to places of detention, and 37 during the period until March 6, 2021. “She talked about conditions and personal needs with each of the more than eight hundred prisoners at the migrant detention centre in Sakharovo, who were sent there after the winter protests. It is difficult to find a person in the Moscow POC of the current committee who would work as actively and diligently as Marina Alekseevna Litvinovich,” the signatories emphasized.
A petition has also appeared on the Change.org platform against the expulsion of Litvinovich from the POC. So far, it has been signed by about three thousand people.
A vote on the expulsion of Litvinovich from the Moscow POC took place on 5 March. The human rights activist has said that the matter of her expulsion from the POC was raised by one of the commission members, who considered that she had violated the law on the POC by talking on the Dozhd TV channel about the circumstances of the detention of Liubov Sobol in the temporary isolation facility on Petrovka – where she has been sent as a result of the case of her ‘entering the dwelling’ of the alleged FSB employee Konstantin Kudryavtsev.
In defence of Litvinovich: an open appeal from members of various committees of the Moscow POC to the Council of the Public Chamber of Russia
We, the undersigned members of the Moscow POC of various committees, oppose the exclusion of M. A. Litvinovich from the Commission. The very possibility of expelling one of the most active members of the Commission on trumped-up grounds undermines the credibility of the POC as an institution of civil control over the observance of human rights. And it violates the Law on Public Control.
In 2020 Litvinovich made 151 visits to places of detention, and 37 during the period until March 6, 2021. She talked about conditions and personal needs with each of the more than eight hundred prisoners at the migrant detention centre in Sakharovo, who were sent there after the winter protests. It is difficult to find a person in the Moscow POC of the current committee who would work as actively and diligently as Marina Alekseevna Litvinovich.
There are no legal grounds for excluding Litvinovich from membership of the Commission – even in the case of accusations of violation of Article 20 of Federal Law No. 76 a member of a commission should be warned of criminal liability, but not excluded from the POC, since the disclosure of data from the preliminary investigation is not a legal basis for exclusion. Moreover, in the case of Litvinovich, there is no need to talk about a possible violation of the provisions of the Federal Law, since the fact of violation has not been proven in any way, a legal assessment of Litvinovich’s actions was not presented.
Therefore, the Moscow POC went beyond its powers, as granted to it by Federal Law No. 76.
We consider it our duty to note that since 2009, when the members of the first Moscow POC were elected by the Public Chamber of Russia, and through until 2020, members of the Moscow POC have never been excluded from the commission for giving interviews to the press. The Law on Public Control (Federal Law No. 86) does not impose such restrictions on POC members.
We expect that the Public Chamber of Russia will make a correct and legal decision and vote against the exclusion of Marina Litvinovich from the commission.
Members of various committees of the Moscow POC who have signed the statement:
Translated by Anna Bowles