Imprisonment for a meeting in memory of the Victims of Beslan
The civic movement “For Human Rights” reported today that human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov has been sentenced to three days custodial arrest.
"On 26 September 2006, in the Magistrates Court No. 370 (Judge Natalya Aleksandrovna Dyatlova) a sentence was passed on participants in the memorial human rights picket on 3 September “In memory of the Victims of Beslan”.
Judge Dyatlova handed down a patently unlawful sentence on Lev Ponomaryov – three days imprisonment [custodial arrest]. During the hearing the OMON [riot police] officers confirmed that Lev Ponomaryov had been detained by special order from the OMON commander for all that he was holding nothing but flowers.
Regardless of the fact that the Mayors office and the Moscow prosecutors office consider that the permit procedure for pickets and demonstrations of the Deputy Prefect Mr Vasyukov is unlawful, the Judge deemed that Ponomaryov was mainly guilty of the fact that “knowing which country we live in, he organized a picket without having permission to do so”.
This ruling of a court in the Central District of Moscow thus runs counter to the Laws and Constitution of the Russian Federation in introducing a permission-based nature to all mass actions. Has the force of the Constitution been effectively suspended in Moscows centre by Judge Dyatlova?
Lev Ponomaryov, jailed for actions aimed at expressing his civic position, while fully complying with current legislation, should be recognized as a prisoner of conscience.
Sentences are awaited on the remaining 12 who were detained on the day”.
Lawyer Yelena Liptser has stated that the court ruling on Lev Ponomaryovs custodial arrest will definitely be appealed.
The sentence is to be served in the police department “Kitai Gorod”, lawyer Anna Stavitskaya, who is representing him, reported.
As previously reported here on 29 August 2006 Lev Ponomaryov submitted a notification to the Moscow Prefecture of the attention to hold a picket “In Memory of the Victims of Beslan” on 3 September on Lubyanka Square at the Solovky Stone. The Deputy Prefect Sergei Vasyukov responded the same day, refusing to give their consent to the event, and suggesting that it be held on a different day. In this instance, as lawyer Anna Stavitskaya stressed, the law was broken twice – firstly, the Deputy Prefect does not have the appropriate powers to resolve such issues, and secondly they were not given grounds for holding the meeting on a different day. As a result the picket organizers decided to go ahead with their plans.
The participants were met at the Solovky Stone on Lubyanka by a substantial police contingent. The picket was dispersed before it began and a group of participants were detained.
Of 50 participants charges were laid against 12 people. All except Lev Ponomaryov are charged with administrative offences under Article 20.2 § 2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the RF (infringements of the established procedure for holding gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets), Article 19.3 § 1 of the same Code (disobeying a lawful instruction or demand by a police officer). Ponomaryov, as organizer, was charged not only with disobeying the demands, but also under Article 20.2 § 1 of the Code of Administrative Offences (infringement of the established order for organizing gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets)
As a result Lev Ponomaryov received a fine for infringing the procedure for organizing a picket and administrative arrest for three days for not complying with the demand of police officers.
“The Judge considers that regardless of what you received from the executive body, if its not permitted, then you cant hold a picket, and you shouldnt evaluate the document from the point of view of legality or illegality, since that is the prerogative of the court. You must obey, not go to the picket, and appeal the action of the executive body in court”, Anna Stavitskaya explains.
“We consider that this ruling is unlawful. As Lev Ponomaryovs representative I plan to lodge an appeal with the Tverskoy District Court.”
The remaining participants have all been fined. As regards the charge of not obeying police officers, the Judge decided to confine herself to a reprimand since, in her opinion, ordinary participants of the action were under the influence of Lev Ponomaryov who falsely informed them about the legality of the police officers demands. The participants had refused to disperse when ordered to by the law enforcement officers.
“The authorities have evidently got tired of people going on pickets and have decided to put a stop to it. To convict to deter others”, this was how the lawyer interpreted the fact that for the first time the organizer of such a civic action has been convicted under the article about not obeying police officers.