‘I am concerned and keeping my finger on the pulse’ Perm region human rights ombudsman Igor Sapko on the FSB searches of civil society activists

19 May 2023

According to Igor Sapko, all the individuals whose homes have been searched are witnesses in the criminal case, not defendants

Source: 59.ru

Igor Sapko, Perm region Human Rights Ombudsman, is monitoring the situation with regard to searches of the homes of Perm human rights defenders and civil society activists. According to the ombudsman, all the individuals whose homes have been searched are witnesses in the criminal case, not defendants.

Earlier, the FSB explained that the searches were connected with a criminal investigation into attempted smuggling of cultural property. According to the investigators, Robert Latypov, former head of the Perm branch of Memorial International (dissolved in 2022; it had been a member of International Memorial that had been declared a ‘foreign agent’ and itself dissolved), and Aleksandr Chernyshov, the chair of the Perm Centre for Historical Memory, colluded and attempted to smuggle part of Memorial’s archive from Russia to Germany.

On 5 May at Sheremetevo Airport in Moscow, Aleksandr Chernyshov was arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for hooliganism. Today, 19 May it became known that the homes had been searched of two members of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Svetlana Makovetskaya (who heads the GRANI Centre) and Tatiana Margolina (former ombudsman of Kama region), and of journalists Tatiana Cherepanova and Oksana Asaulenko (also a former member of the regional public monitoring commission for prisoners’ rights) were searched.

‘I have received many calls and requests to comment on the situation. I am concerned and I am monitoring developments,’ commented Igor Sapko, Human Rights Ombudsman for Perm Region. ‘I talked to Tatyana Ivanovna on the phone, we agreed to keep each other informed of the current situation. All of the Perm activists are witnesses, according to the information we have at the moment.’

The ombudsman also added that in connection with the jailing of Perm civic activist Aleksandr Chernyshov in Moscow last week, he had sent a request to the Moscow region prosecutor to check that Chernyshov’s rights had been observed in the case.

‘I spoke with representatives of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and asked them to pay particular attention to strict compliance with the law in this specific case,’ said the ombudsman.

Aleksandr Chernyshov had been arrested earlier. On 11 March, he was brought to the anti-extremism police department (‘Centre E’). After interrogation, police officers searched his flat where they also confiscated equipment and data storage. On 12 March a search was conducted in the office of the Centre for Historical Memory, where the hard drives of computers were seized.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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