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