Kremlin pressured to reopen Amnesty offices in Moscow
Amnesty International will be able to return to its offices informed Kremlin high official Mikhail Fedotov who is a head of the Russian Human Rights Council. “The lease has been restored completely. They [Amnesty] will be able to return to the office in the nearest future.”, Fedotov said. “Putin was informed of this” Mr Fedotov added.
It is telling that a simple situation of an alleged rent underpayment had to be passed to be resolved by Mr. Putin. The Moscow city authorities would not reply directly to the complaints of the Amnesty International employees choosing instead to send an inflammatory letter to journalists that organization called “an outright lie”.
On Thursday French government expressed its concern regarding the closure of the Amnesty International offices in Russia.
France is concerned by the sealing of Amnesty International’s office in Moscow on November 2. France calls on the Russian authorities to guarantee that Amnesty International, as well as other international human rights organizations, can pursue their activities.
Perth Herald Tribune has learned that on Thursday the Kremlin diplomats received similar complaints from four other major European states at minimum.
Kremlin’s sudden reversal of the decision to shut down the Amnesty International in Russia must be interpreted in the context of the accusations of Putin’s penitentiary system of tortures.
Council of Europe adds to popular pressure on Kremlin
On Thursday Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland said he has spoken with Russian officials about reports that rights activist Ildar Dadin has been tortured and beaten in prison. Jagland revealed on November 3rd that he told to Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov to carry out a thorough investigation of Dadin’s claims and to work with the Council of Europe on prison reform for Russia. Konovalov pledged to Jagland that a full and transparent probe of Dadin’s situation would be conducted.
On Wednesday some of the Russian media including all of the opposition websites and electronic outlets published a letter of Mr. Ildar Dadin, a human rights activist, who was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment for his protests against the Putin’s regime on the street. His only “crime” was organization of the so-called one-man protests on the street allowed by the Russian constitution. In December, he was the first person sentenced under a new law introduced after a wave of anti-Kremlin protests. The new law criminalizes anyone participating in more than two unsanctioned protests within 180 days.
“He should not stay in prison even for a minute longer”, Russian dissident Ilya Milshtein expressed the opinion of majority of an independent lawyers.
In the letter dictated to his lawyer Mr. Dadin described how a group of the prison guards in Karelia region where he is being kept, would torture him regularly. “They beat me four times that day, 10 to 12 people at a time, they were kicking me,” Dadin wrote in the letter. “After the third beating, they put my head in the toilet bowl right in the isolation cell.” On one occasion he said that he was hanged by the shackles to the ceiling and left for over half an hour. Mr. Dadin also revealed that the director of the prison Mr. Kossiyev threatened to kill him. Dadin wrote: “You have not been beaten enough. If I give an order my employees would beat you even more. If you try to make a complain, you would be killed and buried off the fence, Mr. Kossiyev told me.”
The revelations from the Mr. Dadin sent such a shock throughout the airwaves that even Kremlin Spokesperson Mr. Dmitry Peskov could not remain silent. “This is a case which merits the closest attention of the relevant authorities, in this case the prison service,” Peskov said.
All of Russian human rights organizations demanded an honest and thorough investigation. The Amnesty International article about the tortures suffered by Mr. Dadin went viral on social media. Russian citizens organised also protests in support of Mr. Dadin on the streets of Moscow.
Next morning after publication of its letter with protest against the Mr. Dadin’s treatment, the door of their office vandalized and sealed by the Moscow municipality.
It was too late for Kremlin to wage a war against the human rights organization since serious international institutions expressed their concern for the case of Mr. Dadin demanding an independent investigation by the European Court of Human Rights.
The only way to not reveal its real intent for closure of the Amnesty’s office was to revert to the “underpayment in rent” scenario. Mr. Fedotov had to quote “reasons” exposed as a lie and utilized by the Moscow municipality authorities that, without any doubt, did not act independently.
(RFE, Reuters, pht)