Police raid prisoners’ rights NGO
On 8 June 2017 police conducted an unannounced search of the the Moscow offices of the prisoners’ rights NGO, Rus Sidyashchay (which can be translated as ‘Russia Behind Bars’).
As RFE/RL reports, citing the director of Rus Sidyashchaya Olga Romanova, “officers of the Moscow police directorate for economic security and the fight against corruption searched the group’s headquarters and seized documents related to its financial activities” in a probe apparently “linked to an investigation into alleged embezzlement of state budget funds.” However, staff member of the organization, Aleksei Fedyarov, according to RFE/RL, said “there were no grounds for the police to search the group’s office as it receives no financial support from the state.”
In an urgent appeal the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, based in Dublin issued a statement about the search, which it said was “based on false accusations that the organisation had been involved in the ‘embezzlement of public funds’.” The statement concluded:
“Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the search of the human rights organisation, Jailed Russia, as it believes it is being targeted as a result of its legitimate work in defence of human rights in the Russian Federation.
“Front Line Defenders calls on the authorities of the Russian Federation to:
“1.Cease all further forms of harassment against the human rights organisation, Jailed Russia, as it is believed these measures are related to its legitimate human rights activities;
“2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.”
According to the website of Rus Sidyashchaya:
“We hate prisons and prison colonies, have no patience with injustice or with the insulting of Russian laws and citizens. Rus Sidyashchaya is a project of the Philanthropic Foundation to Help Prisoners and their Children, within the framework of which we collect funds and help those who have suffered as a result of the Russian justice system, and apply our legal knowledge and professional expertise to criminal cases.
“We are entrepreneurs and artists, officers and poets, doctors and teachers – those who are unable to stand by while courts hand down arbitrary judgments, destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow countrymen and women, while prosecutors, investigators and other spoiled and dirty elements remain indifferent. For them, bribery has become a part of their everyday lives, while conscience, dignity, pride and honour are treated as old fashioned atavisms. They think they have won. There are convinced that they are the real power in Russia. They are convinced of their impunity and that they cannot be brought to justice.”