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12.10.2006

The Russian – Chechen Friendship Society will be stopped only through prison or a killer

   

Head of the “Russian – Chechen Friendship Society”, Stanislav Dmitrievsky has no intention of leaving the group, however the Nizhny Novogrod Russian – Chechen Friendship Society may be closed down in the near future. A panel of judges on civil proceedings of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court is today expected to consider the application from the regional prosecutor’s office to liquidate the society. Its executive director and the chief editor of the newspaper “Pravozashchita” [“Human rights defence”] Stanislav  (Stas) Dimitrievsky, given a two-year suspended sentence in February on a charge of “inciting inter-ethnic enmity”, lodged an appeal on Monday to the European Court of Human Rights. He is claiming that his right to freedom of expression has been violated.  On the same day the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Prosecutor, Vladimir Demidov made an application to the court to have the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) closed down.  The first court hearing is planned for today, 12 October.

According to the sentence passed on Dmitrievsky by the Sovyetsky District Court in Nizhny Novgorod for having published in his newspaper an appeal by leaders of the Chechen separatists Akhmed Zakaev and Aslan Maskhadov to Russians and the European Parliament, during the four-year probationary period he may not take part in human rights activity. He must leave the RCFS, or as he puts it, the organization must distance itself from him. This however has not happened.

“And how do you envisage it?”. Dmitrievsky asks, - “There is a certain circle of people who share the same views, quite a small circle, incidentally, involved in this issue, they have travelled to Chechnya, and the organization supports me at the trial. And now after all of this the organization is supposed to distance itself from me?  Well then you have to stop working for human rights and go and start breeding bees”.

No one from the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society was especially surprised when on Monday Dmitrievsky was handed the notification from the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Prosecutor of the intention to have the organization closed down.

Dmitrievsky himself who is presently awaiting a response from the Court in Strasbourg is convinced that that judicial stage will be in his favour. What he doesn’t know is whether today the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society will be closed. He is nonetheless ready for such an outcome. “God knows. It’s one thing when you live in a law-based stated and can make predictions, and another when you live in the country we live in”.

In any case, Dmitrievsky says, at some stage the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society will all the same be closed. However this organization will not cease to exist, however hard the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Prosecutor, Vladimir Demidov tries. “If he wants us to be silent, he’ll have to hire a killer or put me in prison”.

Dmitrievsky says that in place of the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society another organization will be formed, with a new name but with the same people. It may perhaps be registered abroad, for example, in Ukraine, but it will work as before in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Dmitrievsky himself is not planning to abandon his work but does not wish to elaborate on that them since, as he puts it, he’s not going to help those who are trying to close the Society. He does not exclude the possibility that among these people is not only the Nizhny Novgorod regional prosecutor, but also the Governor Valery Shantsev and the deputy head of the Kremlin Administration Vladislav Surkov.

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