Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

30 November 2007

Systematic repression mars Russian elections

Systematic repression mars Russian elections
The Russian authorities displayed a systematic disregard for basic human rights in the run-up to parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2 December.

Over the last few months, the authorities have made numerous attempts to interfere with the right to freedoms of assembly, association and expression - both of supporters of the political opposition and of human rights activists and journalists.

Garry Kasparov, an opposition leader, was arrested on 24 November and sentenced to five days' administrative detention for allegedly leading an unsanctioned demonstration and resisting police arrest. Several witnesses told Amnesty International that they had overheard conversations among the police indicating that it had been planned in advance of the march to detain Garry Kasparov. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate release.

"From the unprovoked arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Garry Kasparov, to the beating of journalists and human rights defenders and the excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, the Russian authorities have created a climate in which it is difficult, if not outright impossible, to express dissenting views and to report these," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

On 24 and 25 November, police detained scores of people before, during and after "marches of dissent" in several Russian cities, beating and kicking them in the process.

In St. Petersburg, Ella Poliakova, head of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee of St. Petersburg, was detained together with several other people on 25 November for 12 hours after she had attended a press conference of opposition party Yabloko.

Amnesty International is concerned about a number of violations of the right to a fair trial of those detained during the marches. Court hearings failed to adhere to international standards of fair trial with judges refusing to listen to evidence provided by the accused.

Some of those accused, including Garry Kasparov, were prevented from seeing their lawyers before and after the court hearings. Many people were detained for more than three hours, which is the maximum period allowed under such circumstances. One person was also reported to have been beaten by the police, who then denied him necessary medical aid when he appeared before a Moscow court.

Amnesty International is also deeply concerned about the attack and resulting death of Farid Babaev, a prominent political activist involved in human rights work. Farid Babaev was the first candidate on Yabloko's party list for the Russian State Duma elections in the southern Russian Republic of Dagestan. On the evening of 22 November, he was shot and wounded outside his flat in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala by unidentified perpetrators. Two days later he died in hospital. Relatives and human rights activists have cited Farid Babaev's outspoken political views as being a motivation for his murder.

Amnesty International repeats its concerns regarding the abduction and ill-treatment of Oleg Orlov, head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial, and three journalists from the Russian TV station REN TV. The four men were taken from a hotel in Nazran, Republic of Ingushetia, during the night of 23 November by armed masked men in camouflage. They were driven outside of town and abandoned in a field, after being beaten and threatened that they would be shot. A criminal investiagation has now been opened.

Amnesty International calls on the Russian authorities to respect the lawful work of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and to refrain from any unlawful attempts to interfere with their work.

Issue

Activists 
Detention 
Freedom Of Expression 
Law Enforcement 
Torture And Ill-treatment 

Country

Russian Federation 

Region

Europe And Central Asia 

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