President of the United States Barack H. Obama
Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper
President of France Francois Hollande
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel
Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti
Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron
May 6, 2012, New York-Paris-London
We, participants of the first National Convention of the American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights, representing Russian-speaking Americans concerned with the situation in their native country, – together with the London-based movement ‘Speak Up!’ and the Paris-based Association Russie-Libertés – are asking each of you to reflect upon the problem of political persecutions in Russia under the guise of criminal justice, and to help Russia address this issue.
Russian Federation, as a member of the Group of Eight of industrialized nations, shares the responsibilities undertaken by this group in the area of human rights, in addition to its responsibilities under international agreements and commitments that it undertook as member of other international institutions. At the same time, Russian authorities keep in jail over 30 people found guilty of various crimes in the proceedings that a number of human rights organizations and experts see as politically motivated and a travesty of justice. Russia’s most respectable and established human rights agencies, Memorial Society and the Moscow Helsinki Group, have recognized many of them as political prisoners.
In recent months, Russia’s growing movement of protest against the violations of civil and human rights by the authorities included the release of these individuals at the top of the list of its demands. In February 2012, Russia’s authoritative governmental agency – President’s Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights – submitted a list of 34 names of individuals convicted or charged of crimes under questionable circumstances, with a recommendation to then-President Dmitry Medvedev to grant them pardon. However, on March 15 President Medvedev indicated that he would not pardon anyone without a request from that person. And such a request implies an admission of guilt which is not acceptable to many of these prisoners. So far, only one of them signed a request for pardon and was granted it.
After the large amount of evidence suggesting widespread fraud in the parliamentary and presidential elections was dismissed by the Russian authorities, they have increasingly shown their confidence of being able to act with impunity and to disregard the opinion of human and civil rights advocates. Perceived indifference on the part of the international community is likely to embolden them, leading to further abuses, while people seen as political prisoners by a large part of Russian society will continue to linger in jail.
To prevent this from happening, we urge you to use your diplomatic leverage with Russian authorities at the G8 Summit to persuade them to release the individuals whose names were submitted for presidential pardon by Russia’s Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights and who have not been pardoned.
The full list of names is available on the website of the aforementioned Council (at http://www.president-sovet.ru/structure/group_6/materials/spisok.php?sphrase_id=529) and includes the following individuals, grouped by the nature of charges:
1) People convicted of divulging classified information related to their scientific research: Yevgeny Afanasyev, Svyatoslav Bobyshev, Sergey Vizir, Valentin Danilov, Igor Reshetin
2) People convicted on charges related to their professional work or entrepreneurial activities: Yelena Bazanova, Anatoly Bashmakov, Vitaly Vorobyev, Vladimir Yermolenko, Aleksey Kurtsin, Platon Lebedev, Vladimir Malakhovsky, Igor Matveev, Aleksei Pichugin, Vladimir Tenitilov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Grigory Chekalin, Yuliya Tsivilskaya, Sergey Tsivilsky, Sergey Shimkevich, Aleksandr Shoror
3) People convicted of being implicated in terrorism in cases where the Council found the charges “dubious, among other reasons because of the defendants’ particular ethnic and/or religious identity”: Ravil Gumarov, Timur Ishmuratov, Zara Murtazalieva, Dias Rafikov, Fanis Shaykhutdinov
4) People determined by the Council to be “persecuted for reasons related to their civic activism”: Ivan Belousov, Igor Berezyuk, Ilya Vaskov, Taisiya Osipova, Kirill Unchuk, Valentin Urusov, Ruslan Khubaev.
This list should be expanded to include the three young singers – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich – who were arrested in March for a performance in the church organized in the context of the anti-government protests, as well as the 3 young politicians – Alexey Navalny, Sergey Udaltsov and Ilya Yashin, who are now in jail on purely political motivations as recognized by leading Human Rights organisations such as Amnesty International. .
We hope, your Excellencies, that you will take advantage of the opportunity provided by the G8 Summit to convince the Russian authorities to release these people from confinement. This will reconfirm your countries’ commitment to the fundamental principles and values of democracy that cannot be sacrificed to political expediency and will help the Group of Eight gain more support in the Russian and international civil society.
Participants of the National Convention
of the American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights:
Dmitri Glinski, Sergey Semenov, Anastasia Sorokina, Olesya Sabirova, Alexey Semyonov, Anna Leonti, Arthur Nazarenko, Elena Yakovleva, Kristina Mayman, Alexander Militarev, Alexey Tokmin, Maria Snegovaya, Tonya Raber, Xenia P. Grubstein, Alex Yakubssohn, Dmitry & Nadia Valuev, Nina Long, Yulia Shilnova, Sergey Shilnov, Larry Poltavtsev, Ilya Zaslavskiy, Andrey Strigin, Nikolay Sergeevykh, Tanja Nyberg, Natalia Krapiva
Maxime Filandrov, President, Association Russie-Libertés, Paris, France
Andrey Sidelnikov, President, International Movement ‘Speak Up!’, London, United Kingdom
Et pour les russophones, l’interview de Maxime Filandrov (Russie-Libertés) sur Radio France Internationale.