21 April 2021
Aleksei Vorsin is being prosecuted under the so-called ‘Dadin’ article of the Russian Criminal Code following the protests of 23 January 2021
Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international guidelines, considers 33-year-old Khabarovsk activist Aleksei Vorsin a political prisoner. We believe he is being prosecuted solely for his political beliefs and for the non-violent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and information, as well as peaceful assembly. We consider the criminal case against Vorsin is politically motivated and is intended to force him to end his public activity as an opposition activist and critic of the current government.
We demand that Aleksei Vorsin be immediately released from house arrest and that the charges against him under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (the so-called ‘Dadin’ article) be dropped. We demand the repeal of the illegitimate Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (repeated violation of the procedures for organizing or holding a public event).
- Who is Aleksei Vorsin and what charges have been laid against him?
Aleksei Vorsin is one of the leaders of the local opposition and heads the Khabarovsk headquarters of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. In December 2020 Vorsin announced plans to run for the State Duma in the autumn of 2021.
In March 2021 criminal proceedings were instituted against Vorsin under Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code for repeated violations of the procedures governing the holding of large scale public events. On 19 March 2021 Vorsin’s apartment was searched and he himself was roughly detained and, according to witnesses, beaten. On 20 March at a hearing at the Central district court in Khabarovsk, the activist was placed under house arrest.
Criminal proceedings were initiated against Vorsin on the basis of his tweet of 23 January 2021 calling for people to attend a peaceful rally to show solidarity with Aleksei Navalny in central Khabarovsk. Before then, he had already been convicted several times of administrative law offences in connection with rallies supporting former Khabarovsk governor Sergei Furgal, whose prosecution is most likely politically motivated.
- Why does Memorial consider Vorsin a political prisoner?
The very fact of Aleksei Vorsin’s prosecution under the illegitimate and unconstitutional Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code gives ground to conclude he is a victim of wrongful and politically motivated prosecution. Article 212.1 contradicts fundamental principles of law and is aimed at restricting freedom of assembly and forcing critics of the current government to terminate their public activities.
Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code has already been severely criticized by Memorial Human Rights Centre, Amnesty International, the head of the Presidential Human Rights Council and the federal Human Rights Ombudsman. Even the Russian Constitutional Court, in considering the complaint of Ildar Dadin, the first person convicted under this Article, ruled that its application should be restricted to cases in which violations of the procedures for organizing or holding a public event ‘resulted in harm to the health of citizens, the property of individuals or legal entities, the environment, public order, public safety, or other constitutionally protected values, or contained a real threat of causing such harm.’
We believe that Vorsin’s prosecution is politically motivated as he has been charged with participating in public events organized by the opposition, in the context of the mass persecution of Aleksei Navalny’s supporters.
In January 2021, after Navalny had returned to Russia and been remanded in custody, solidarity protests were held across the country. As a result of the protests held in January and February 2021 more than a hundred people were prosecuted in politically motivated criminal cases under at least 12 articles of the Russian Criminal Code. There was a major campaign of prosecutions against Navalny supporters.
Finally, we have reason to believe the criminal case against Vorsin was initiated as part of a campaign to put pressure on popular would-be opposition politicians in the run-up to the 2021 State Duma elections.
A more detailed description of the case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre are set out on our website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How to help
Sign the petition for the repeal of Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove