For his political beliefs alone

<< No 9 (242), 6 March 2017 >>

♦  Appeal by a mother on behalf her imprisoned son ♦

Tatyana Moroskhina (Chelyabinsk)

My son, Alexei MOROSHKIN, has been recognised as a political prisoner by the Memorial Human Rights Centre on the grounds that criminal proceedings (resulting in imprisonment) were instigated against him solely because of his political beliefs, contravening his right to non-violent freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

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Alexei Moroshkin in Moscow

As if that were not bad enough, psychiatrists diagnosed his dissenting views as a symptom of “schizophrenic reformist nonsense”, and a court decided that the social activist should as a result be subjected to compulsory treatment in a “closed” psychiatric hospital, all of which is highly reminiscent of the struggles between dissidents and the authorities back in the Soviet era.

I, with lawyers from human rights organisations [in Russia], am the legal representative of my son. In my opinion and in the opinion of legal professionals, neither the materials of the criminal case nor the court’s ruling supply any evidence that Alexei poses a risk to society, and his isolation in a closed hospital — which constitutes unlawful imprisonment — is therefore unwarranted.

Neither the courts, nor the psychiatrists, nor officials working for the law-enforcement agencies, including the Federal Security Service, have made any effort to conceal the fact that my son is being persecuted for his oppositionist activities in the public sphere and for speaking out against Russia’s policy on Ukraine. As evidence of his guilt, the court’s judgment refers to the statement of a certain witness who was “outraged” at the fact that Moroshkin had, “called on people to speak out against the lawful actions of the authorities and attempted to blame the incumbent leaders of our country for the events in eastern Ukraine.”

Alexei Moroshkin was sent to the Chelyabinsk Region Clinical Psychiatric Hospital No. 1 in the city of Chelyabinsk for compulsory treatment and has been there for over one year.

The charges and the punishment

The case against Alexei was based on allegations that he had incited violations of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, in connection with posts on the social media network “Vkontakte” in which he discussed the need to establish a Republic of the Urals and proposed various options for the territorial restructuring of Russia. These options included establishing a Republic of the Urals, either within or outside the Russian Federation, or of a confederation of the Ural and Siberian Republics and others, all aimed at creating a more democratic society. As well as his posts about the Republic of the Urals, my son is accused of holding a pro-Ukrainian position and criticising the Russian authorities for their role in events in eastern Ukraine.

Alexei has admitted writing the posts, but does not agree that their publication constituted a criminal offence.

Yet another criminal case has now been instigated against my son, this time under the legislation on vandalism, since he is accused of “desecrating” a memorial to Lenin by allegedly painting it blue and yellow. Alexei maintains his innocence.

After familiarising themselves with the case file, the lawyers asked for the criminal charges to be dropped given the lack of any evidence of guilt on the part of the accused. The only material evidence which could be supplied by the investigators was photographs of dubious quality (the rest had allegedly been lost during the investigation), and only copies of the expert reports were available instead of the originals. The case was referred back for further investigation three times, and six of the investigators were replaced, but the case has not been closed and I have been warned that Alexei will once again be sentenced and forced to undergo compulsory treatment.

Both I and his defence lawyers are concerned about the outcome of these new proceedings against Alexei Moroshkin.

A prison-like hospital

He is being kept in prison-like conditions in the hospital, since he is not allowed to go for a walk and has no opportunity for contact with the outside world. His health has greatly deteriorated, and he is suffering from dyspnoea, apnoea and chest pains. The doctors are attempting to use pharmaceutical drugs to alter his mindset, in particular his political beliefs, which they believe to be nonsense. They do not even attempt to conceal this fact, and refer to Alexei’s “willingness to continue active political and social campaigning” as grounds for continuing his compulsory treatment.

The case against my son has been instigated for purely political motives, and he is being made an example of in order to instil fear among others. My son has suffered and continues to suffer for exercising his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech and for daring to hold dissenting views. It is entirely possible that his compulsory treatment will continue without limit.

My son was humiliated, threatened and beaten when he was arrested, and he was held in pre-trial detention centres for several months. He has been deprived of his freedom, the opportunity to engage in creative activities and the right to express his views and thoughts. And as if this was not bad enough, he is completely dependent on the hospital staff and subject to constant moral coercion and threats that he will be treated with highly potent pharmaceutical drugs.

My son and I have encountered and continue to encounter cruelty, lies and injustice from the modern machinery of state repression. We are in a difficult situation as a result of seeking help from human rights activists, refusing to admit Alexei’s guilt and continuing to fight.

We are asking for help and support. All the relevant documents can be forwarded upon request.

With best regards and in hope of a positive outcome

Tatyana Moroshkina

Translated by Joanne Reynolds

Pravo-ural.ru, 9 February 2017

NOTE

Alexei Moroshkin (b.1980) was arrested on 26 September 2015 and charged under Article 280.1, part 2 of the RF Criminal Code, “Appeals to disrupt the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”. On 19 November 2016 the court ruled him of unsound mind and committed him, under Article 97, part 1 (item “a”), for compulsory psychiatric treatment.

Information from Memorial HRC and Inostrannyi agent

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