07.07.2007 | Halya Coynash

Political prisoners must be released, not forgotten


Mikhail Trepashkin remains in solitary confinement, despite a medical condition which according to Russian legislation requires his release from imprisonment.

His lawyer Sergei Kuznetsov told the press that his client’s life was being endangered by the conditions he is being held in. He said that Mr Trepashkin is not provided with the medicine he needs, nor fresh air, natural light and normal food and water.  Mikhail Trepashkin did in fact give written consent to be placed in solitary confinement after the administration argued that this was for his own protection and to prepare for the coming hearing. He was not, however, aware that he would be placed in a cell of 4 square metres without a window. This was a cell where they held those awaiting execution.

A hearing into Mikhail Trepashkin’s cassation appeal against his transfer from a colony settlement to a (harsher) general regime was scheduled for 6 July.  It was postponed for somewhat vague reasons.  One wonders whether the fact that on that same day the Russian Prosecutor General officially turned down the UK Government’s request for the extradition of the main suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko had anything to do with this.  The cases are hardly unrelated.  Litvinenko had directly accused the Russian Security Service of orchestrated the Moscow and Volgodonsk apartment bombings in 1999.

Mikhail Trepashkin is serving a sentence on charges which have been seriously questioned in a PACE report, by Amnesty International and by a number of Russian human rights organizations. Human rights defenders are convinced that the charges, sentence and now the entirely unwarranted transfer to a harsher regime are punitive measures against the former FSB officer and lawyer who was actively involved in trying to uncover the real culprits of the 1999 apartment bombings.

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