The Quality of Mercy
The quality of mercy is not straind,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
To Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
We are gravely concerned over the refusal of the Russian authorities to provide urgent hospitalization for former YUKOS Vice-President Vasily Aleksanian, who is suffering from AIDS, cancer of the lymph glands and is nearly blind.
He is still being held in the isolation unit for those with contagious diseases of a remand prison. A Moscow court on Friday 1 February refused to release him from custody.
Vasily Aleksanian has not been convicted of any crime, and even if he had been, Russian legislation as well as the imperative of human mercy demand that a person in his critical condition be spared such strain and be given proper medical treatment in a civil hospital.
The European Court of Human Rights has issued three calls to Russia to transfer Mr Aleksanian to a specialist hospital equipped to treat his illnesses and provide the Court with details about the treatment he is receiving. In its last communication on 21 December, it warned the Russian authorities that the Court would consider whether a violation of the right to life (Article 2) and the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment (Article 3) of the European Convention on Human Rights had been committed if Vasily Aleksanian died in the SIZO [remand prison] or if his condition deteriorated as a result of the lack of treatment.
The European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights provide vital protection against lawlessness and abuse for all of us, including Russian nationals. Any failure to comply with these international commitments places our shared rights and freedoms in jeopardy.
These rights must not be held ransom to any settling of scores or other political manoeuvres. Mr Aleksanian has stated publicly that the investigators have made his hospitalization contingent upon his testifying against Mikhail Khodorkovsky. We cannot comment on this particular claim, yet there can surely be no doubt that the refusal to hospitalize a person in his grave condition is inhumane. We are convinced that since Aleksanian has not been convicted of a single crime and is most certainly not able to abscond, continuing to remand him in custody can in no way be said to serve the cause of justice.
The President of the Parliamentary Assembly Lluís Maria de Puig said recently that PACE might try to bring pressure to bear on the Russian authorities to comply with the directives issued by the European Court of Human Rights (http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1201129620 ). It only needs a few Members of the European Parliament to put forward this initiative.
We are therefore writing to you now to help by calling on PACE to appeal directly to the Russian authorities, and conceivably President Putin, to show mercy.
Halya Coynash, Yevhen Zakharov, Yury Chumak, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Andrew Grigorenko, Director of the General Petro Grigorenko Foundation
Olena Vesel, Ludmila Koval, “Maidan” Alliance
Please help by sending this letter to PACE representatives – the list can be found here: http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/AssemblyList/AL_DelegationsList_E.asp )