Quote for the Week. Natalia Zviagina (Amnesty International): “Yan Sidorov should have never been imprisoned in the first place, and nothing will make up for the years he has spent behind bars.”

Week-ending 23 October 2020

Natalia Zviagina

“Yan Sidorov should have never been imprisoned in the first place, and nothing will make up for the years he has spent behind bars. But tomorrow there is a chance to begin to rectify this injustice by ordering his release. We are also calling for the release of Vladislav Mordasov, Yan Sidorov’s friend and fellow prisoner of conscience, who was also unjustly deprived of his liberty solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The penitentiary officials at Yan Sidorov’s hearing are expected to present evidence of “regime violations” he supposedly committed while in a penal colony. One of these so-called violations consisted of Yan not tucking his blanket under his mattress properly. The record of this ‘violation’ only goes to show how desperate Russian authorities are to justify the continued imprisonment of a brave human rights defender. The only just outcome in this case will be the immediate release of Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov, and an end to the systematic harassment of activists.”

– Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

Source: ‘Russia: Parole hearing must be used to release young prisoner of conscience’, Amnesty International, 21 October 2020

Amnesty International writes:

‘Ahead of the parole hearing of human rights activist Yan Sidorov, Amnesty International called on Russian authorities to end a gross injustice by immediately and unconditionally releasing him. Yan Sidorov is a prisoner of conscience who was arrested and detained simply for trying to hold a peaceful protest in November 2017 in the city of Rostov-on-Don, in support of dozens of people who had lost their homes in mass fires. […]’

On 22 October the court in Dmitrovgrad refused to release Sidorov on parole because, according to the prison authorities, he had not shown he was willing to ‘reform himself.’

Background to the case from Amnesty International

Yan Sidorov. Photo: Memorial Human Rights Centre

‘On 22 October, Dimitrovgrad City Court in Ulyanovsk Region (Central Russia) will consider an application for parole of prisoner of conscience Yan Sidorov. In October 2019, he and his friend Vladislav Mordasov were found guilty of “attempted organization of mass disturbances” and sentenced to over six years in a penal colony each for having organized a peaceful protest. Their sentences were subsequently reduced to four years on cassation. Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov were deprived of their liberty for trying to hold a peaceful protest in November 2017 in support of dozens of people in Rostov-on-Don (Southern Russia) who lost their homes as a result of major fires. They are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.’  

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