17 May 2022
Sergei Klokov has been remanded in custody on charges of talking on the phone about crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine
The Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial’ considers Moscow police officer Sergei Klokov a political prisoner in accordance with international criteria. He has been remanded in custody for phone conversations in which he talked about crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. We believe Klokov is being prosecuted for exercising the right to freedom of expression and in order to intimidate those in Russia who oppose the war against Ukraine.
We demand the immediate release of Sergei Klokov from custody and that the charges against him be dropped.
We consider the inclusion in the criminal code of the offence of ‘spreading information, known to be false, about the actions of the Russian Armed Forces’ (Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code) a manifestation of censorship which is prohibited by the Russian Constitution.
We demand that the Russian authorities comply with the Russian Constitution.
Who is Sergei Klokov and what are the charges against him?
Sergei Klokov was born in 1984 in Ukraine. He went to school in Irpen near Kiev. Before his arrest, Klokov worked as a driver for the reserve control post at the Moscow police headquarters with the rank of police captain.
According to the investigators, on 9 March 2022, ‘by making telephone calls … to unidentified persons,’ Klokov ‘spread information he knew to be false … about the use of the Russian Armed Forces.’ In other words, in a phone conversation, Klokov talked about war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine.
On 16 March 2022, Klokov was detained and charged with ‘public dissemination of information known to be false about the use of the Russian Armed Forces by a group of persons using their official position, motivated by political and national hatred’ (Article 207.3, Part 2, Points a, b, e, of the Russian Criminal Code).
On 18 March 2022, Moscow’s Presnensky district court remanded Klokov in custody. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Why do we consider Klokov a political prisoner?
Having carefully studied Sergei Klokov’s case, we have concluded that his criminal prosecution is politically motivated and unlawful.
The offence of distributing information known to be false about the actions of the Russian Armed Forces (Art. 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code) contradicts the Russian Constitution, Russia’s international obligations and fundamental principles of law.
In particular, according to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ‘Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression.’ Restrictions on the exercise of these rights ‘shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: For respect of the rights or reputations of others; For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.’ Similar provisions are set out in Article 29 of the Russian Constitution.
Restrictions on freedom of expression as laid down by Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code do not serve any of the purposes cited above and are a form of censorship.
In essence, this article of the Criminal Code criminalises any statements about the use of the Russian Armed Forces and activities of Russian government agencies abroad. During an armed conflict, it can be impossible to establish the truthfulness of information disseminated by various sources. It is even less possible to establish whether it is known that information is false. These shortcomings determine the unlawful character of Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code.
The timing and context of the adoption of this article of the Criminal Code – after the start of large-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine – allow us to argue that Article 207.3 of the Russian Criminal Code has been specially created as a means to prosecute critics of the Russian authorities.
Finally, it is worth noting the particular cynicism of the use of this article in the Klokov case. The investigators have treated a private telephone conversation as public dissemination of information. This detail only underscores the unlawfulness of the prosecution of Sergei Klokov.
A more detailed description of the case and the position of the Human Rights Project are available on our Telegram channel.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or a victim of politically motivated prosecution does not imply the Human Rights Project ‘Support for Political Prisoners. Memorial’ agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
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Translated by Rights in Russia