Podcast No. 87. Simon & Sergei – with Ernest Mezak

This week our guest on the podcast is Ernest Mezak, a well-known journalist and human rights activist from the Republic of Komi in Russia. He represents victims of law enforcement violations in courts at the national level and has also acted as a legal representative before the European Court of Human Rights in some 200 cases. In 2012 he won the Moscow Helsinki Group’s Human Rights Award in the category “For defending human rights in courts.” Previously, Ernest Mezak has worked for the Public Verdict Foundation.

The issues discussed in the podcast include: becoming a human rights defender; human rights in the Komi Republic; the role of the European Court of Human Rights in Russia; prosecutions for exercising right of assembly; Mezak’s prosecution for ‘insulting a judge’; the future of human rights in Russia.

This podcast is in Russian. You can listen to it in full here:

You can also listen to the podcast on Podcasts.comSoundCloud,  Spotify  and  iTunes

The music, from Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, is performed for us by Karolina Herrera.


Given the length of the podcast, we have also divided it into three parts that you can listen to separately.

Part One: Choosing human rights as a profession; about the Republic of Komi:

Part Two: Role of the European Court of Human Rights; Right of assembly; Prosecution for allegedly ‘insulting a judge’; Reaction of the European Court of Human Rights:

Part Three: The future of human rights in Russia:


Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: At Christmas 2007 Ernest Mezak was detained by two police officers. It was in Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi Republic: Ernest was shoved into the so-called ‘dog-cage’, that is, into the back compartment of a police patrol car. Mezak later recalled: “It was very cold and dark in there. I spent 20 minutes in those conditions. Subsequently, I appealed my treatment conditions at Syktyvkar city court. And the most amazing thing happened: the court was sympathetic to my claim and found the detention conditions to be in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention prohibiting torture.” Our interlocutor this week, Ernest Mezak, is a human rights activist from the Komi Republic. He often represents victims of law enforcement violations in courts at the national level, and he has also acted as legal representative before the European Court of Human Rights in some 200 cases. In 2012, he won the Moscow Helsinki Group’s Human Rights Award in the category “For Defending Human Rights in Courts. It is understandable that such stubbornness, sometimes bordering on obstinacy, cannot help but irritate people in law enforcement. I think in Syktyvkar he is well known and disliked by all officials. A few months ago in the Komi capital a criminal case was opened against Ernest for insulting a judge. His apartment was searched, and, as usual, all his computers, smartphones, flash drives and hard drives were confiscated. Mezak was summoned for interrogation. Ernest told us what has been happening to him – and about the prospects for the human rights movement in Russia.

Simon Cosgrove adds:  A summary of some of the week’s events in Russia relevant to human rights can be found on our website here.

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