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07.06.2007 | Halya Coynash

WHY are there political prisoners in a G8 country?

   

To the G8: When you’re sitting around the table, spare a thought – and some very hard-hitting words – in support of Russian political prisoner Mikhail Trepashkin.

You may not have seen the demonstration on Lubyanka Square in Moscow on 4 June 2007.  The Russian media finds it altogether less fraught to focus on Putin’s dog these days.

The picketers were calling for the release of Mikhail Trepashkin who has been imprisoned since 2004 on patently absurd charges. Human rights defenders are convinced that he has been persecuted for his work as a lawyer defending the victims of the bombings of apartment blocks in Moscow in September 1999.  These, we would add, were the bombings which Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in November last year claimed were organized by the FSB [Russian Security Service]. The placards at the picket had questions like the following: “Mr President! Is it coincidence that that all those who begin investigating the bombings are eliminated?”

A question we would recommend be put at the G8 Summit …

The picket came on the eve of the cassation appeal against Mikhail Trepashkin’s transfer on 9 March 2007 to a harsher regime penal colony.

 Mikhail Trepashkin suffers from asthma and other illnesses. His condition is, according to Russian legislation, grounds for his release.  This has been repeatedly stated by Russian and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International. 

He remains incarcerated with his life therefore in danger.

Nor is he the only political prisoner in the Russian Federation.

Perhaps it is time for the G8 to speak out – or to fall silent on the subject of democracy and the rule of law.

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