Ongoing efforts to restrict Russian human rights defenders freedom of expression
The court saga continues over the administrative charges against Nizhny Novgorod human rights defender Stanislav Dmitrievsky brought in connection with the “March of those in dissent” [“Marsh niesoglashnykh”]. On 15 January a panel of judges in the regional court examined a cassation appeal against the ruling of a district court which had bound Dmitrievsky to not commit any further administrative offences.
The court ruled to overturn the regional courts ruling and send the case back for a new examination with a different panel of judges.
This is already the fourth court ruling on the subject. Stanislav Dmitrievsky has repeatedly insisted that the measures concerned do not serve the aims of criminal prosecution, and are politically motivated.
The suspended sentence inspectorate in Nizhny Novgorod applied to add this restriction in August 2007. The first instance court prohibited the human rights defender from committing any administrative offences on threat of the suspended sentence becoming a rule imprisonment.
According to Dmitrievsky “The prosecutor is using the suspended sentence inspectorate to restrict my right to freedom of expression and participation in peaceful gatherings by threatening me with imprisonment. The fact that the first instance court rulings have been overturned at cassation level, in my opinion, suggests two things. They show, firstly, the lack of professionalism of the judges in the Nizhny Novgorod District Court which have handed down unlawful rulings to please the prosecutor. And secondly, they indicate that the examination of my case by the European Court of Human Rights is having a favourable impact on Nizhny Novgorod court practice. In both cassation court instances, they have carefully studied the material and passed rulings in compliance with the law. And this doesnt happen often.”
The decision to bring administrative charges was based on Dmitrievskys active involvement in the protests of the united opposition “March of those in dissent.”
It is worth pointing out that Mikhail Gangan who is presently seeking asylum in Ukraine was in a similar situation. His organization of a similar opposition march in Samara led to a suspended three year sentence being turned into an actual prison sentence (passed already in his absence).